No one gets married expecting to get divorced down the road, but life happens, and people discover conflicts or simply grow apart. That doesn’t mean that your divorce needs to be a contentious process, though.
In fact, while we associate divorces with the court system, going to court isn’t strictly necessary, especially if you’re going through an amicable separation.
Instead of going to court, some couples settle their divorce through a guided mediation process. If you’re unsure if you need to go to court to settle your divorce or if mediation might be right for you, here are a few factors to consider.
How’s Your Communication?
Poor communication is a common issue among divorcing couples, but for those who are separating after a long stint in couples counseling or who are on good terms but no longer want to be together, it may not be a problem.
In these cases, mediation can be a great choice because you’ve already laid the groundwork for the process. You know how to talk about your problems and negotiate.
Are There Kids Involved?
Divorce is almost always hard on kids, and going to court tends to make things worse. That’s because our court system takes an adversarial approach to problems, even when that’s not really necessary. As Rowdy Williams, a lawyer specializing in divorce mediation, explains, “Mediation encourages fairness and prioritizes the health of your relationship which is critical in cases involving children. Remember, you’re going to need to continue coparenting with your ex, so the last thing you want to do is to create more conflict and put your kids in the middle of this situation.”
How Flexible Are You?
One of the biggest advantages of choosing mediation for your divorce proceedings is that it gives you a chance to test out different arrangements, which is especially advantageous if, for example, you need to determine the best approach to joint custody. When the court issues a judgment, it’s clear cut and must be followed; in more contentious cases, you can actually be taken back to court for not following the established arrangement.
Mediation, on the other hand, let’s you find solutions to a range of problems that feel manageable and comfortable based on a range of criteria, rather than strict rulings.
Seeing The Big Picture
It’s important to remember that divorce actually has many aspects to it. While there is the emotional and physical act of separating, you also need to deal with finances and property, and the legal requirements.
If you’re going to choose mediation, then, you need to choose it for all aspects, not just particular components where you see eye to eye.
Luckily, you can also work with multiple professionals with different specialties during divorce mediation to ensure you’re getting the right advice and the insights you need to reach a fair and legal settlement.
By consulting with lawyers, mediators, therapists, and even financial planners, you can end your relationship on good terms, and with the confidence that you and your ex treated each other with the respect and fairness you both deserve.