In the United States, around 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce. There are many possible reasons why you may be planning to end your marriage, ranging from infidelity or abuse to disagreements about money or how children should be raised. Even if you have not experienced major relationship issues, you and your spouse may have simply grown apart, or you may have found that your goals for the rest of your lives are incompatible.

Regardless of why you have chosen to get divorced, you should understand that there are many different ways you can approach the process of legally dissolving your marriage. Even though the stereotypical idea of divorce involves contentious disputes between spouses and battles in the courtroom, this does not have to be the way you handle the divorce process. In fact, you can get through your divorce much more quickly, easily, and effectively by working together with your spouse to resolve your legal issues.

For many couples, divorce mediation is a beneficial way to reach agreements and complete their divorce peacefully while minimizing emotional stress and financial costs. By cooperating to create a divorce settlement that you and your spouse can both agree on, you will likely be much more satisfied with the results. To determine whether mediation is the best choice for your divorce, you should consult with a Kane County divorce lawyer to discuss your legal options.

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

When you and your spouse choose to use mediation, you will make the commitment to cooperate with each other and work together to create a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. You will work with a trained mediator, and this person will be a neutral third party who will facilitate discussions, offer suggestions, and guide you toward solutions that you will both be satisfied with.

In many cases, mediators are family law attorneys who have an understanding of divorce laws and the legal issues that will need to be addressed in a divorce settlement. A mediator can help you understand how state laws regarding child custody, child support, division of property, and spousal maintenance/alimony will apply to you, and they can help you create workable solutions that will protect your rights and comply with all legal requirements.

Typically, mediation involves you, your spouse, and the mediator sitting down in the same room, discussing the issues that you need to resolve, and working together to create a divorce settlement. However, other arrangements may be used, such as the mediator meeting separately with each spouse and their attorney. In some cases, mediation can be completed in a single session, but multiple meetings are usually required to fully address all of the issues that need to be resolved. It is important to understand that the mediator will not make any decisions for you; instead, they will guide you and your spouse toward making mutual decisions that you can agree on.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

One of the primary ways mediation can be beneficial is because it gives you and your spouse full control over the decisions in your divorce. Rather than leaving the resolution of disputes up to a judge, you can find ways to cooperate and compromise, and your divorce settlement will only be finalized once you both agree about the decisions made. This can also help you make sure you will both follow the terms of your divorce settlement, since you will have agreed on these terms rather than having requirements imposed on you by someone else.

In many cases, mediation can also help you complete the divorce process more quickly and efficiently. The legal fees related to a divorce trial can be very high, since you and your spouse will both need to pay for attorney representation in multiple court appearances. A litigated divorce can also take a great deal of time, and it will depend on court schedules and the availability of the judge and your attorneys. When you use mediation, the two of you will usually divide the mediator’s fees, and once you have reached a settlement, you can attend a final hearing to complete your divorce.

Because mediation can help you and your spouse cooperate, it can be especially helpful when addressing matters related to your children. Since you will be required to maintain a relationship with each other and work together as co-parents following your divorce, mediation can help you establish boundaries and figure out how you can both make sure you will be acting in a way that protects your children’s best interests. It can also help you determine the best ways to address and resolve any child-related disputes that may arise in the future.

Finally, one of the key factors that can make mediation beneficial is the fact that it is completely confidential. You will not have to report to the judge or anyone else about the issues you discussed during mediation, and any communication between you and your spouse during mediation, including emails, text messages, or written notes, cannot be used as evidence if the mediation process fails and you are required to resolve your outstanding issues through litigation. This can give you the confidence to discuss issues openly and honestly without the fear that anything you say could be used against you.

When Is Divorce Mediation the Wrong Choice?

There are some situations where divorce mediation may not be beneficial. If a marriage involved physical or emotional abuse, one spouse may not feel safe when they are around their former partner, and they may not believe that they will be able to work together. These situations often involve manipulation and coercion, and an abuse victim may worry that their spouse will not approach the discussions in good faith or with the intent to cooperate.

Since mediation requires spouses to work together and make compromises, it may not be beneficial in some cases involving contentious disputes. If a spouse refuses to budge from an unreasonable position, or if they refuse to consider the other spouse’s needs, it may be impossible to reach agreements, and mediation may ultimately not be effective.

How Can I Make Sure Mediation Will Be Successful?

As you prepare for divorce mediation, you will want to make sure you understand your goals and identify the areas where you may be willing to compromise. By approaching the process in the spirit of cooperation, you can be ready to find solutions that you and your spouse can both agree on, ensuring that you will be satisfied with the results.

You can also increase the chances of success by working with a St. Charles divorce attorney throughout the divorce process. Your lawyer can review the legal issues that you need to address during mediation and make sure you understand your rights, and they can offer suggestions on how to make the right decisions in your settlement. After completing mediation, your attorney can review your divorce settlement, identify any areas of concern or issues that may need to be addressed, and make sure you take the right steps to finalize the divorce process. With a legal advocate on your side, you can make sure you will be prepared for success in your life once your divorce is complete.

Author's Bio: 

Tricia D. Goostree knew she wanted to be an attorney when she was 10 years old. After being accepted to the John Marshall Law School with a Dean's Scholarship, Tricia added excellent writing skills to her love of working in the courtroom. Tricia is the founder and managing partner of the Goostree Law Group, P.C. in St. Charles, Illinois.