When most people think about divorce, they envision a drawn-out courtroom drama that results in hurt feelings and huge fees. But before the judge strikes his or her gavel, the State of Colorado requires couples attempt mediation, a process where a neutral third party helps you and your spouse settle the outstanding issues surrounding your divorce.
For some couples, mediation can less painful, less time consuming and less expensive alternative to litigation. Here are five reasons mediation might be the right path for you and your spouse.
1. Mediations are faster, more flexible, and often less costly than a court battle
When you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably anxious to put the painful experience behind you and move on. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. The speed of a litigated divorce is dictated by the court schedule, which means it may drag on for months.
In a mediation, you and your spouse work with the mediator to set your own schedule. You can spread meetings out to ease tensions or work to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. And, less time means lower cost. In fact, according to the American Bar Association, the cost of divorce mediation is generally 40-60% lower than litigation.
2. Mediation is more discreet
In a courtroom divorce, intimate details of your life, finances, and marriage become part of the public record. Mediation, on the other hand, is private. Negotiations are not made public, and there is no recording, transcription or official record of the proceedings.
3. Mediation is often less contentious than litigated divorce
No matter how amicably you and your spouse split, courtroom divorces are adversarial by nature-one side will win and the other will lose-a situation that has the potential to drudge up the worst in any relationship.
Mediation is designed to promote communication and cooperation. Mediators are neutral third parties trained to help people resolve their disputes. Both sides are expected to compromise to reach an equitable agreement.
4. Mediation can be easier on children than litigated divorce
As much strain as your divorce puts on you and your spouse, it puts even more on your children. For them, your divorce means change and uncertainty. According to the American Bar Association, mediation leads to less stress for your kids and greater occurrence of joint custody.
5. Mediation gives you greater control over the outcome
In litigation, everything from the division of assets to custody of your children is decided by a judge, which can leave you and your spouse feeling helpless and frustrated. Even if you have to sacrifice getting everything you want in a mediation, you’re more likely to feel like you have control over the situation. After all, even though you’re encouraged to compromise, you’re never forced to agree to terms you’re not comfortable with.
Mediation isn’t for everyone
Although mediation offers an alternative to litigation for some couples, it isn’t suited to every situation. Cases where there is intense acrimony or a history of violence between spouses, or cases where one spouse is unwilling to disclose their assets may need to be decided in court. But for many people going through a divorce, mediation offers a more agreeable alternative to arguing before a judge.