Mediation is almost always the better way to go when you are getting a divorce. Otherwise you’re going to have to go to court with lawyers in tow. Court heats up the conflict and when both parties hire attorneys things get expensive really quickly.
Mediation is a process where you can come to a voluntary agreement about divorce, parenting plans and all the other details that you have to settle. In general, people are much more likely to honor a voluntary agreement than one that is imposed by the courts. That means that the likelihood that you have to go back time and again to fight the same battle is much, much smaller. (About 80% of mediation agreements stay in place, versus less than 50% of court decisions.)
Voluntary agreements can set you on a path to collaborative co-parenting that much more quickly. Forced resolutions to your conflict often lead to years of bitter feelings.
It’s often not worth being mired in conflict, because conflict has a tendency to occupy your mind. As if parenting isn’t hard enough without an ongoing battle on your hands.
Now, before I explain more about mediation and how I can help you and the co-parent, let me say in some cases, mediation is a bad idea.
- When someone is being abused, you should seek the protection of the court
- When you know or suspect that drugs and alcohol are in the picture, there is no use in seeking a voluntary agreement.
- When you know or suspect that someone is hiding assets are lying about their income and wealth, you should seek assistance from an attorney and possibly a fight in court.
In other cases though, mediation is faster, cheaper, and much more likely to support an agreement that both parties can be behind.
You stay in control the whole way through. You set the agenda, not I. And a number of issues can be on the table: child custody, time share, a parenting plan, financial arrangements, medical decisions, school decisions. Whatever you think needs to be decided on.
When you go to court, you loose some of this control (but you may gain more protection). The court is full of highly professional human beings who try their best to do right by you and your children. But they also lack resources, which means that they don’t really have time to look closely at your case.
So I don’t need a divorce lawyer?
I think that you would do yourself a great favor if you seek the advice of a specialized attorney. Just knowing what your rights are will bring you to the mediation that much more prepared. And mediation is most successful when you are prepared.
A mediator can help you best when you are clear about what you want, need, and feel you have a right to. It’s also important to realize that I, as a mediator, cannot give you legal advice. No mediator can do that, even if they are trained as lawyers.
And most family lawyers will agree that reaching an agreement out of court is far better than fighting it out before a judge and court appointed mediator. There’s really hardly any disagreement on this. And these attorneys will also support you in coming to the mediation table being very well prepared. It’s all around a much preferable situation.
Before your divorce
Before you finalize a divorce, here are some of the topics that you will seek agreement on:
- Splitting of the assets
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Parenting together
But after your divorce, there is often good reason to return to mediation. Your kids grow up after all, and new decisions need to be made. Perhaps your divorce was so amicable that you can just sit down together and figure it out. That’s ideal.
But’s also completely normal to seek support of a mediator to help you come to an agreement. This kind of conflict is hard, and where your children are concerned, the stakes are that much higher.
Here are some of the topics that you may seek mediation on after your divorce:
- Updates on your parenting plan
- School choice
- Medical decisions
- Child support (your economic situation is changing too)
- Collaborative parenting
You likely want to revisit your agreements every now and then. There are no guidelines for this, but as your children grow up you face new choices. And the more the co-parents have come to a decision together, voluntarily, the more your children will benefit.
It’s sometimes a painful realization, but you know this is true: Your children feel everything that is going on in the family. They are aware of the conflict you have with their co-parent. Not that they can name what is going on. Depending on their age, they may not have a conscious awareness of what is going on. But kids are so attuned to the lives of their parents that it’s almost impossible to hide important developments from them.
Your children are intensely interested in you and urgently seek connection with you. Their young brains don’t yet have your (and mine) capacity for rationalization. In other words, they feel what is going on immediately even if they have no idea what it is that they’re feeling. That’s one of the most important things I have learned as a parent educator.
If at all possible, a collaborative co-parenting situation is what you want. For their sake!
And I want to help you achieve that. You can contact me right away, just to have an initial conversation and discover if I’m the right person for you and your situation.