Contrary to what movies and television shows portray, not all couples want a contentious divorce that requires a court battle. Many couples want the process to go as smoothly and fairly as possible.
For spouses who want a more collaborative divorce, mediation may be the right option.
How mediation works
According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, mediation uses a mediator, who is a neutral third party, to help the couple discuss issues, decide on asset and debt division, agree on child custody and negotiate any other marriage-related matter. It is a collaborative process in which the couple communicates respectfully. Although the mediator does not make any decision for the two parties, he or she possesses conflict-resolution skills to help them come up with a creative solution.
Benefits of mediation
One benefit is that the entire process is much less stressful and emotional for not only the two spouses, but also for the children. The resolution is often better than it would be using the court system, and the couple is able to communicate freely with each other. Other benefits are that it is less expensive and quicker than litigation. High-asset couples also appreciate that the related matters and ultimate agreement are confidential.
Circumstances when mediation is disadvantageous
Although beneficial for many couples, FindLaw discusses some situations in which mediation may not be a good choice. If there is abuse in the relationship, the court system may offer more protection than mediation. Mediation may also not be beneficial if one spouse is dominant over the other, as the results may not be fair.
If a spouse suspects that the other party is not fully disclosing assets, litigation may be better. A judge has the legal tools to demand that both parties disclose all assets or face legal consequences.