Mediation is the opportunity to focus on the future. How you got to the point of conflict is secondary to how you move forward.
Webster defines mediation as “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise.” A mediator is a neutral person who is objective, and who attempts to help the parties resolve the conflict and reach a workable solution.
A mediator trained in divorce and family law can lend assistance during this particularly difficult time. If spouses have made the difficult decision to end their marriage, they should be the ones to determine how to dissolve it, how to divide assets and liabilities, and most importantly, how to determine issues related to children. The Husband and Wife created the family – they should therefore be the ones who decides on what terms to dissolve it. The parties know what is best for them and it’s best that they control their future, not a judge.
When there are children involved, reaching an agreement outside of court is best. Through all of the anger, heartbreak, disappointment, and all of the other feelings that accompany a divorce – at the end of the day, there are children who have to be taken care of and prioritized above emotions. The Dad and Mom still have to be parents and they still have to co-parent. Co-parenting is made easier when the parents come out of the marriage agreeing to put the children first and agreeing to terms regarding custody.
Mediation allows the parties to be in control of their future. Oftentimes people just want their day in court and want a judge to hear all about how bad the other person is. While that’s certainly understandable, you lose control of your post-divorce future. If you don’t resolve a divorce prior to trial, it is the judge who decides what is best for your children – not you. It is the judge who decides how to divide the marital home and its contents. It is the judge who decides whether or not you get alimony or retirement. It is the judge who decides who gets the dog.
Mediation can save you money. If you are able to resolve the divorce through mediation, you will likely pay less money in attorneys’ fees than if you went to trial. It some cases, it could be significantly less money.
Mediation can help you avoid contentious and lengthy legal battles, thus helping you preserve relationships, reduce stress, and move forward. Divorce absolutely sucks, so it’s easy to get stuck in the emotions that come with the end of a marriage and want to fight to the bitter end; however, progression is vital for your overall well-being.
Not every case can be successfully mediated. Cases of domestic violence have to be treated differently and with great care. Domestic violence victims should not be forced into mediation, and indeed in Alabama, can’t be forced into mediation. There are also cases in which very well meaning parents have polar opposite views on what’s best for the children and thus can’t resolve custody disputes. No one should feel pressured to settle, just for settlement’s sake, and do what they don’t think is right or in their (or their children’s) best interest.
Mediators can provide a valuable service in divorce cases. Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” A mediator can help you find that opportunity in the middle of the very difficult life change that is divorce.