A mediated divorce uses a neutral third-party mediator to help the parties resolve issues that arise during the divorce. The mediator is not there to make decisions or mandate outcomes. Their role is to help the parties collaborate respectfully to reach mutually agreeable solutions. Co-mediation is a model that uses two professionals — often a mental health provider and an attorney or financial neutral — who work as a mediating team.
Benefits of Mediation in Divorce:
The main benefit of a mediated divorce is that it allows the parties to maintain control of the decision making in their divorce as opposed to having those decisions made by the court. Other benefits include the following:
- Increased control over the divorce process: Allows the parties to maintain control of the divorce settlement in terms of the process and the outcome
- Improved communication: Promotes a collaborative decision-making process, which can benefit post-divorce interactions
- Privacy: Maintains the privacy of the parties as everything but the final decree occurs outside of the courtroom
- Decreased cost: Reduces the cost of the divorce process compared to litigation
Benefits of Co-Mediation in Divorce:
Working with a co-mediation team provides some additional benefits beyond the use of a single mediator. These benefits include the following:
- More Expertise: When you have a team that includes a mental health professional and a lawyer and/or financial neutral, you benefit from the specialized expertise of each professional. With each professional acting in a neutral capacity, their knowledge facilitates discussions and moves conversations forward.
- Checks and balances: Having multiple professionals at the table creates a checks and balances system. Each professional can promote neutrality and keep the process on track. We are all human and have the potential for bias. Co-mediation reduces the likelihood that any unconscious bias enters the process.
- Role modeling: One of the goals of mediation in divorce is helping parents learn how to co-parent effectively post-divorce. The ability to communicate effectively is key to achieving this. Co-mediators can help model how to effectively communicate and solve problems in real time.
- Increased potential for connection: Mediators have different personalities and differ in terms of gender, race, and age. Similar to other relationships, a key aspect of success in mediation is “fit.” If a client feels that a mediator understands them and is neutral, it helps the process. Co-mediation creates more opportunity for a client to feel that there is a good fit.
Considerations in Hiring a Co-Mediation Team
So, let’s say you and your spouse are interested in pursuing a co-mediated divorce. What should you look for in assembling a team? Here are some things to think about:
- Good fit: As previously mentioned, it is important that both parties feel comfortable with their mediator(s). This doesn’t mean that you will like everything you hear from them or that you will always get your way. Instead, you want to look for mediators that make you feel comfortable and safe. Mediation will involve difficult conversations, so that type of fit is critical. If you are using co-mediation, it is also important to feel that the co-mediators work well together. Feel free to ask them about their previous experience working together.
- More expensive: It is more expensive to use co-mediation as you are paying multiple professionals. While it may end up being more efficient to utilize professionals with specific expertise, the hourly rate will be more expensive than a single mediator.
Getting a divorce is a difficult, painful process and many decisions need to be made while you are mourning the loss of your marriage. Mediation allows you to create solutions that meet the unique needs of your family. Utilizing a co-mediation team allows you to gain insight and expertise from legal, financial, and psychological backgrounds to promote a respectful, collaborative and productive process that sets you up for the future you want.