The end of a marriage is often full of emotions that can be difficult to control. One day you may feel angry and bitter, and the next, sorrow and loss may overwhelm you. However, you and your spouse may be like many divorcing couples who do not want to walk away from the marriage as enemies. Perhaps you have children and understand how difficult it will be to co-parent without some sense of cooperation.
For this reason, you may be considering the option of divorcing through mediation. Rather than a long, litigated divorce that could quickly turn adversarial, mediation can foster negotiation, compromise and understanding, all of which could be critical in the years to come.
The benefits of mediating over litigating
One of the most painful parts of a litigated divorce is that it often takes a long time to complete. It takes time to do thorough discovery, to schedule months on a court docket and to deal with conflicts that litigation often exacerbates. You may spend a year or more waking up each morning to face the anxiety of a protracted divorce. If you reach the point where you just want it to be over with, you may agree to a settlement that is not in your best interests.
Mediation, on the other hand, can keep your divorce within your control. It can take as much or as little time as you need to resolve any issues, and it allows you and your spouse to discuss matters openly with the guidance of a neutral third party and the counsel of your attorney. You and your spouse will not need to go to California family court until you have already settled issues such as property division and child custody. You may even gain some understanding into your spouse as you negotiate.
A few warnings
While it is typically more likely that you will both be satisfied with your settlement if you choose to mediate, it is important that you understand there is no appeals process as there is with litigation. Additionally, even if you and your spouse are on good terms, the issues you discuss may stir up tension or feel uncomfortable to deal with in front of strangers. If your spouse is not willing to take on this type of negotiation process, mediation may not work for you.
However, if you agree to mediate your divorce, it can be important that each of you have your own legal counsel to ensure that your emotions or uncertainties do not keep you from obtaining a settlement that will benefit you in the future. Your attorney can assist you in making the many preparations necessary before the mediation process begins and can advocate for you throughout the proceedings.