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Mediation: Four critical things to know about the process

Divorce is often portrayed as a bitter, dragged out battle that pits people against each other and ends with a loser and a winner. But while the process may not be enjoyable, it does not have to look like this.  There are alternative methods of dispute resolution.

Options like mediation make it possible for couples to divorce in a more peaceful, amicable manner, which can appeal to people hoping to get through a divorce as smoothly and cooperatively as possible. That said, there are things every person should know before settling on or deciding against mediating divorce-related matters.

 It can work in more situations than people think.

Too often, people assume mediation is not an option because they don't get along with their ex. They don't trust each other, or they can hardly talk without getting into a fight. 

However, the fact is that mediation can work even when parties are less than amicable. With the support of lawyers, mediators and other professionals, parties who disagree can negotiate and reach satisfactory solutions.

Some cases can be too complicated for mediation.

While mediation can work for a wide range of people, some cases are too complicated for mediation to be effective. 

For instance, if you have highly sophisticated assets, it may not be possible to divide them in mediation. And if there is a history of domestic violence, manipulation or abuse, mediation may not be a realistic or safe option. 

It requires both parties to participate. 

Because mediation requires mutual participation to work out solutions, both parties must be willing to voluntarily engage in the process. If one person is against mediation, refuses to compromise, or is making unreasonable demands, family mediation can be unsuccessful.

It can be best in the long run.

Cooperative decision-making has several benefits, including being better for parties in the long run.

Through mediation, divorcing spouses can agree to creative solutions that a court may not have considered. When both people are involved in crafting the outcome, it can be easier for everyone to be satisfied and comply with the terms they set.

While mediation is a constructive and healthy mode of dispute resolution, one must realize that it not appropriate for all.  For example, financial disclosure is a prerequisite for every case; if one side does not fully disclose, then mediation will not work.  Check with your lawyer as to whether or not mediation is a viable option for your situation.

Whether you are set on or against mediating your divorce, it can be wise to understand what it is and is not before making any firm decisions. 

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