There are quite a few ways to get divorced these days, so how do you know which way is right for you? Over the next few months, I will discuss in detail the tenets and process of each avenue (mediation, collaborative, litigation), starting with divorce mediation.
In divorce mediation, a neutral third party, chosen by the parties, facilitates conversations that address all issues of divorce. Mediation is non-binding unless a mutually agreeable settlement is reached. Unlike litigation, the parties, not a judge, control the outcome. This can have great appeal to couples that want creative solutions pertaining to their particular needs. Also appealing, the proceedings are private and are not a matter of public record. This is again in contrast to litigation, which is public.
There are five major principles of mediation; it is voluntary, private, confidential, self-determined and based on informed decision-making.
Voluntary: Attendance at an initial meeting may be mandatory if ordered by a judge, but continued participation is strictly voluntary. A resolution cannot be imposed on either party and any resolution reached must be mutually agreed to and voluntary.
Private: The mediation only involves those necessary to come to an agreement. This includes the two parties, the mediator and any other professionals, such as a coach or financial neutral, agreed to by the parties. Any records or notes cannot be used in any future court proceeding, which is public record, should the mediation break down. Most mediators destroy all records of the mediation once complete for this reason.
Confidential: All mediation sessions are confidential and, as stated above, limited to only professionals agreed to by the parties. The parties must sign a waiver allowing access to information for a requesting party. The parties must also agree that it would be beneficial or there are compelling reasons to limit confidentiality in order to do so.
Self-Determination: The parties are responsible for their own conflict,
Informed Decision Making: Each party must have the necessary information needed to make an informed decision with regard to their conflict’s resolution. This will sometimes require a professional to “level the playing field.” For example, a financial neutral can ease the anxiety by providing scenarios that even a party less confident in financial matters can understand. In this way, all parties can rest assured that the information was received and understood, and an informed decision can then be made.
Mediation may work for your situation, but it may not. It can work for couples that are looking for a more cost effective way to divorce and are focused on a better long-term relationship in order to co-parent. However, one spouse may not agree to mediate. If this is the case, collaborative or litigated divorce may be a good alternative. I will go into detail about each in the coming months.
Nicole established the Denver Divorce Mediation Group, LLC and became a Certified Divorce Mediator & CFDP® after having experienced a divorce herself. She saw how difficult it was to make important financial decisions while overwhelmed with the emotions that come with divorce. As a divorce financial planner and mediator, she has helped hundreds of couples move through