Divorce is almost always a difficult and emotional process. The uncertainty of “what comes next” tends to create a lot of stress for divorcing spouses. In addition, each circumstance is unique, and the wants and needs of the spouses vary from case to case. This can make it especially difficult to come to a satisfactory resolution through traditional processes.
How Divorce Mediation is Different
One of the things that makes my job as a divorce mediator so rewarding is the ability to help couples resolve the outstanding issues that are most important to them. With mediation, we acknowledge that each case is different, and every couple has specific priorities that need to be addressed. Through a collaborative approach, we sit down together and talk through these issues and work toward a “win-win” agreement that both spouses will be satisfied with.
Here are a couple areas of the divorce where an “out of the ordinary” settlement might be necessary:
Division of Assets: “Fair and equitable” distribution of marital assets is not always as simple as dividing everything up 50/50. For example, there are instances when there is a family-owned business that is the primary marital asset. And in many of these instances, only one of the spouses is deeply involved with the business. In such cases, it might not make sense to split the business up. Instead, the business might go to one spouse with an agreement to pay the other an equitable sum over a period of time as compensation.
Another common financial issue is the home the spouses own together. Sometimes, the spouses own the home along with investments and other assets that equal more than its value. But because the value of real estate tends to appreciate faster than other investments, an equitable arrangement might be to let one spouse keep the home, and the other receive everything else.
Child Custody: These days, many couples need more complex child custody arrangements. In some cases, one spouse receives sole physical (residential) custody, while the couple retains joint legal custody (so they both have input on education, religious upbringing, healthcare, and other similar matters). In other cases, joint physical custody makes more sense, with the child alternating between homes based on the work schedules of the parents. When one parent moves out of the area, a different arrangement must be made with the child often spending the majority of his/her time with one parent, but with scheduled visits to the other during school breaks and summer vacation.
During mediation, I work with couples to lay out all the issues that are most important to each of them. Next, we discuss the best course of action to accomplish these objectives in a way that fully satisfies each side. The approach is flexible, and when needed, outside specialists such as accountants and child therapists can be brought in to assist with the process. Mediation is also cost-effective; and in most cases, resolutions can be reached at a fraction of the cost of more traditional venues.