An impending divorce is profoundly stressful and vulnerable because of the potential loss and uncertainty of so many areas of life, including partnership, financial security, parenting time, home, family relationships, and future life plans.
Given these circumstances, the choice about how to get a divorce is all the more crucial. Listed below are ten benefits of divorce mediation as compared to a standard, lawyer-driven divorce litigation process.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
1. Save Money
Country-wide surveys demonstrate that the divorce costs through mediation are $1,500 – $3,000 for both parties, approximately 10% or less of divorce costs through litigation (typically $15,000 – $40,000). This is a significant benefit of divorce mediation, as families already experience financial strain when they begin supporting two homes; decreasing divorce expenses is a smart, practical business decision.
2. Protect the Children
The most significant divorce factor impacting children’s psychological and emotional health is the amount of conflict between the parents. The adversarial, litigated approach escalates conflict and stress and can leave lasting scars…thereby putting children’s well-being at risk. This is particularly the case when children are involved in a high conflict custody battle. In contrast, divorce mediation is a professionally guided problem-solving oriented towards meeting the needs of the whole family.
3. Save Time and Stress
While the average overall time frame for a litigated divorce is 9 months to 2 years, the average overall time frame for the divorce mediation process is 2-4 months. Mediation’s streamlined approach to information-gathering and decision-making provides reassurance through the rapid progress and shortens the amount of time all family members have to endure the anxiety of unresolved issues and unknown futures.
4. Remain in Control (Empowerment)
Divorce Mediators guide and educate people through their parental, financial, and legal options so they can make their own informed decisions about what is best for themselves and their family, instead of attorneys and judges taking control and making those decisions for them. Instead of blame and fault finding, mediators help ex-spouses communicate clearly and effectively, consider and discuss options, and take responsibility for their choices.
5. Customize Solutions
A litigated divorce provides a cookie-cutter approach, such as sell the house, split the retirement, establish a traditional parenting schedule. Divorce mediation can benefit ex-spouses by enabling them to think outside the box and develop a fair settlement agreement that reflects their own and their families’ unique needs and goals. For example, they may trade retirement for house equity so that one spouse can retain the house, or develop a parenting schedule which creatively maximizes children’s time with each parent while reducing the time the children spend in paid childcare.
6. Retain Privacy and Confidentiality
Family matters are sensitive and should remain private. In mediation, you will never set foot in a courtroom. Unlike a litigated divorce, your divorce process in mediation will not have hearings open to the public and become part of the public record. Divorce mediation confidentiality is protected by State laws. All verbal and written communications, all draft agreements, and disclosures are confidential.
7. Avoid Future Legal Battles
When major parenting and financial decisions are made by others, such as attorneys and judges, and imposed upon people, they are much more likely to be resentful and resistant to the court’s judgment…finding a myriad of ways to evade following the judgment and sometimes repeatedly filing for legal appeals and modifications. This type of protracted long-term legal conflict depletes families emotionally and financially. In contrast, research has demonstrated that people are more invested, satisfied, and far more likely to follow through with agreements they voluntarily participated in developing.
8. Set the Foundation for Positive Parenting
The adversarial threat, demand, and counter-demand inherent in a litigated divorce establishes a pattern of high-conflict and mistrust during the sensitive time of establishing a new post-separation parenting relationship. Conversely, a significant benefit of divorce mediation is that parents are guided and supported in making proposals and mutually acceptable agreements about difficult topics. This collaborative problem-solving approach provides parents with the skills and positive experience of respectfully working with each other and establishes a positive co-parenting relationship to handle future challenges.
9. Preserve Community Relationships
One of the greatest casualties of a conflict-ridden lawyer-driven divorce is the relationship between a spouse and their in-laws, extended friendships and community, as the negativity of a legal battle forces other people to choose which spouse to support and retain as a friend, and which spouse to blame. The more collaborative divorce mediation process demonstrates to family and friends that the spouses are working together with mutual respect and integrity to make the difficult decisions required by an unfortunate divorce.
10. Help Provide Closure
People often hire lawyers with the erroneous assumption that a judge will hear their case and validate the rightness of their position. In truth, only 10% of litigated divorce cases actually go to trial. Oregon is also a “no-fault state,” meaning that the spouses’ wrongdoing towards each other is largely irrelevant to the court’s decisions. Conversely, a well-trained divorce mediator can assist willing parties in discussing the decision to divorce, and in being heard about, and bringing closure to the wounds of the relationship.
Find the Right Divorce Mediator
These benefits of divorce mediation are a natural result of the process of mediation itself. However, there are variations in the style and approach of mediators which may augment or diminish some of these benefits. Thus, it is important to ensure that the divorce mediator that you use is one whose style and approach feels comfortable for both spouses. If you have retained an attorney, you may want to ensure that the mediators is comfortable and has a positive working relationship with attorneys. Most mediators offer quick phone consultations or up to hour-long in-person consultations at no charge, to assist clients in finding the right mediator for their family.