“The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried,” said the first woman justice to sit on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, enabling two people to resolve their conflicts without having to go to court. As with choosing an attorney, choosing a mediator to handle your divorce requires diligence to find the best one suited to your needs and one that is well versed in the laws of your particular state. In all cases, a fair mediator is one that recognizes and understands how to handle the power balance between the spouses.
I chose mediation. At the time, a quick and inexpensive resolution was critical. All in all, it worked for me. But, just like no two marriages are alike, neither are two divorces. Hopefully, these pros and cons can help you in making a decision.
PROS OF MEDIATION
- Mediation is a less expensive form of dispute resolution
- The judicial system can be cumberson and costly
- Mediators are quicker to schedule than waiting for court times
- Spouses speak up for themselves rather than lawyers talking for them in mediations
- There is usually less fighting with a mediator than in a courtroom
- It is often easier on children since mediation is usually more peaceful
- Mediation proceedings are confidential
CONS OF MEDIATION
- A failed, although less costly, mediation leads to additional costly and timely litigation
- It can be unfavorable to one spouse if the other dominates the proceeding
- Mediation will lead to an unfavorable agreement if the mediator is inexperienced or biased
- If any issues of law occur in mediation, the court system will still be required
- Since financial data is voluntary one spouse could cover up assets
- A poorly written mediation agreement can be unforceable or challenged later
- Mediation doesn’t always protect those who don’t speak up or have abusive spouses
Say YES to Mediation Only If:
Divorce is a mutual decision
There is no desire to reconcile
Both spouses want to stay on decent terms
Both spouses can talk openly about financial matters
Both spouses are good parents
Neither spouse has reason to think the other is untrustworhy
Neither spouse shows dominant, violent or abusive behavior
Neither spouse regularly abuses drugs or alchohol
Remember, if you choose the route of mediation and you don’t like the outcome, you can always change directions and go to the judicial system. Because mediation discussions are confidential and not allowed in court, you get to literally start over.