People do not get married to get divorced. Thus, divorce is a terrible disappointment, regardless of whose decision it is. In fact, it is this disappointment, and the fear, hurt, and anger that follows, that can make a divorce so difficult. Divorcing couples need help.
They do not need to engage in costly and protracted litigation or a process that will inflame their emotions and cause them to become more destructive. They do need the assistance of experienced, sympathetic professionals who can guide them through difficult times and help them get on with their lives. Divorce mediation provides an alternative.
Divorce mediation is a procedure designed to help separating and divorcing couples reach an agreement, privately and informally. It employs the skills of a neutral third party (a mediator) to help forge an agreement by providing necessary information, clarifying issues, exploring alternative solutions, and suggesting possible compromises. More importantly, mediators ensure that each party is given adequate opportunity to express his or her view, thereby assuring that each person’s interests are properly recognized and protected. In the event of custody or visitation disputes, the mediator obtains the assistance of family counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or other appropriate human relations professionals to aid the individuals in coming to an agreement. On the financial side, the mediator obtains the assistance of certified public accountants or experienced tax attorneys when and if necessary.
In addition, the appropriate real estate valuators and other appraisers will be consulted to determine the value of various assets acquired during the marriage. In mediation, settlement discussions usually proceed quickly. For this reason, divorce mediation is usually less expensive, less emotional, and less destructive than a court proceeding. Cost is simply a function of time. The less time the procedure takes, the less costly it will be. The divorce mediation process allows both parties to work together to obtain a fair and equitable agreement.
Probably the most compelling argument in favor of mediation regards the continuing relationships of the parties involved. Divorce may end a marriage, but it does not necessarily end the family relationship. There is no question that former spouses will be required by circumstance to relate to each other on many levels after the divorce. Accordingly, it is important that the parties resolve all disputes in a way that will allow them to cooperate with each other in the future.
William M. Laufer heads the matrimonial department of Laufer, Dalena, Jensen & Bradley, LLC in Morristown, NJ. He has been certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys as a divorce mediator and has worked in the mediation process for over seven years. He can be reached at (973) 285-1444. View his firm’s Divorce Magazine profile.