I recently had the opportunity to attend the Make Divorce Healthier Symposium and was able to meet likeminded therapists, lawyers, financial advisors and divorce coaches who all share the vision of making divorce healthier. When seeing couples or individuals who are going through the divorce process, I encourage them to seek mediation when possible. Here are a few ways mediating your divorce can be beneficial:
- Mediation will save you money: Sadly, the divorce process is very broken. Remember, the longer your divorce drags on, the more money your lawyer will make. The money you and your spouse each spend on your respective lawyers is money wasted. The money lost hurts not only each of your futures, but also your children’s futures. However, with mediation you and your spouse will hire one lawyer to work collaboratively with you. This reduces the cost of divorce significantly.
- Mediation is quicker: Because of the naturally collaborative process, mediation compared to traditional divorce is usually faster. Unlike traditional divorce, you do not have to wait for each of your lawyers to find time to communicate with each other, or wait for court dates that could be months away. This also reduces the anxiety and frustration experienced in the traditional divorce process.
- Mediation is empowering: Both you and your spouse will have more control over the process during mediation. Compared to traditional divorce that often leaves each partner feeling powerless and confused, mediation can be an empowering experience. You and your spouse will get to determine the terms and conditions that work for your specific situation.
- Mediation will protect your privacy: With a traditional divorce you will have to discuss private family matters (including finances, details about your children) in front of the court. Many people don’t realize they will have to discuss these personal details in front of court employees, officers and other families and lawyers also there for their court date. Mediation ensures privacy, as it can be done in your lawyer’s office.
- Mediation may be better for your children: Not only will you save money that can go towards caring for your children or investing in their future, but mediation allows you and your spouse to model a cooperative and respectful ending to a relationship. Traditional divorce also usually forces children to undergo testing or evaluations by other professionals when parents cannot agree to a custody arrangement. This can be extremely stressful for children. However with mediation, these evaluations can be avoided. With mediation, you and your spouse can create a custody arrangement that works best for your family—instead of an arrangement mandated by a judge.
- Mediation is a way to end your marriage with mutual respect and dignity: Remember, at one point you loved your spouse and willingly agreed to legally commit yourself to this person for life. Unlike traditional divorce, which often turns into a “pissing contest” and can get nasty very fast, mediation is a process that can honor the love you each had for each other (and maybe still have). In addition, if you have children, you will need to continue to have a cooperative and civil relationship with your spouse. Mediation is a process that will facilitate spouses being able to co-parent successfully.
If your spouse will not agree to mediation, suggest meeting with a counselor for a few sessions to at least discuss the pros and cons of mediation versus traditional divorce. Make sure you seek out a professional who understands the differences between mediation and traditional divorce. Unfortunately, you cannot force your spouse to mediate. Spouses who are angry, abusive, have narcissistic rage or those who simply want a fight, will likely not agree to mediation. If you find yourself in this situation, seek experienced legal counsel and counseling to help you through the divorce process.