If you and your spouse are ending your marriage, you may be considering divorce mediation. You’ve likely heard that mediation is less stressful, time consuming, contentious and expensive than a litigated divorce, and it generally is. However, many people don’t know exactly how it works.

Divorce mediation is facilitated by a mediator, who is often a family law attorney. He or she is not there to take sides, determine who is “right” or “wrong” or provide legal advice.

Mediators can help couples identify the things that they have to work out to reach a settlement. This can include child custody, asset and liability division and child and spousal support.

While mediators can help couples brainstorm options for working out these matters, the decisions ultimately need to be made by the couple. This is why it’s essential that a couple be able and willing to put any feelings of animosity, jealousy and revenge aside for divorce mediation to be successful. If one or both of you isn’t ready to do that, you may need to go with a more traditional divorce where your attorneys can help work out the settlement and custody agreement.

If you think that you can get to a place where you can work together in mediation with the help of a therapist, a mediator can recommend someone. Mediators can also recommend other professionals such as financial advisors who can help you as determine what you have, what it’s worth and how to divide it. That can be particularly important if you have considerable assets.

Spouses who choose mediation are also allowed to retain their own attorneys. However, the attorneys must support the mediation process.

Couples who successfully complete divorce mediation are usually happier with the results than those who take their case to court. That’s because they’ve made the decisions that need to be made. Their attorneys haven’t worked out the settlement nor has a judge had to step in and make decisions. If the couple has children, this experience of working together to find the solutions that work best for everyone involved can also help them as they move forward as co-parents.

Source: Noozhawk, “Maureen Grattan: What is Divorce Mediation, Who Should Use It and When?,” Maureen Grattan, accessed Jan. 20, 2016