As someone who has guided numerous divorcing spouses during divorce mediation and been divorced myself, I understand how ugly things can get. For many couples, the idea that they could resolve their differences amicably and without the involvement of the courts seems like fantasy land. The reality is there are very few couples who enter a divorce proceeding on friendly terms; by the time they reach the point of dissolving the marriage, most couples have tried for months and sometimes years to make things work.
After the countless hours of counseling, weekend “reset” getaways, temporary separations and other potential resolutions have been exhausted, we are left facing the fact that divorce is the only solution, and we need to make the best of it. At this point, you can choose the traditional route of retaining an attorney and fighting it out in court. However, even if emotions are running high and you are not sure you can ever be friends again, you can still use divorce mediation successfully to dissolve your marriage. All it takes is the commitment to follow through with the mediation and the understanding that, like any other kind of negotiation, you will not get 100% of what you want.
It is well-known that divorce mediation can be an affordable alternative to traditional litigation. However, few people realize the flexibility mediation offers to craft a creative divorce settlement that works for you, your spouse and your children. When a divorce is litigated, the courts and attorneys tend to follow pre-set guidelines and administer “one size fits all” remedies that often fail to take into account your specific circumstances. And at the end of the day, important decisions (regarding critical areas such as property and asset division, how your children will be raised, etc.) are made by strangers.
Divorce mediation, on the other hand, puts control of the final divorce settlement into the hands of you and your spouse. This opens up a world of opportunities to dissolve the marriage on your own terms. During mediation, you can settle your affairs any way you want as long as everything is legal and both spouses agree.
So many times, after suggesting a creative alternative, I’ve had clients tell me “I didn’t know you could do that!” For example, in one of my past mediations, I had a couple who wanted to keep their house so they could keep the kids in the same school district. We came up with a settlement in which the spouses would become business partners with regards to the home.
One spouse agreed to live in the home and pay rent, while the other would help with maintenance and other expenses normally incurred by a landlord. This is an arrangement that worked well for this particular couple, and one they would likely have never arrived at had they pursued traditional divorce litigation.
If you are considering divorce, I understand the pain you are going through and the uncertainty you have about your future. If you are not sure how you can come to a settlement that effectively addresses your specific issues, I invite you to consider divorce mediation. You may be surprised by what we can do together to come up with creative alternatives to help move you toward a more workable settlement.