After you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, you may be dreading the divorce proceedings. The thing is that not all divorces have to be a battle like you see on television.
Although litigation is still a fairly common way of dissolving a marriage, there is another option. Mediation has gained in popularity for numerous reasons, and it is a good idea to research both methods to determine what works for your situation.
Litigation occurs in a courtroom in front of a judge, and both sides present their cases. Litigation is a choice for when spouses cannot come to an agreement about issues such as property division and child custody. This method is often a better choice if one spouse is controlling, or if one suspects that the other one is hiding assets. A judge has legal power to demand full transparency from both parties.
Litigation is expensive and time-consuming. Because the judge makes the final decision, the spouses have less control over the outcome. The evidence and documents presented during the case are also available to the public, so there is no confidentiality, which may be a disadvantage, especially in high-asset divorces.
Mediation is an alternative that puts the control in each spouse’s hand. According to the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, mediation is a collaborative process that involves a mediator, who is a neutral third party that guides discussions between the two parties. The mediator helps resolve conflicts and provides potential solutions when necessary. Mediation is not only less stressful than litigation, but it is also cheaper, confidential and quicker.
Mediation is not necessarily a good option for couples who are unwilling to communicate or work together to come up with a fair agreement. It may also not be the better option if one spouse is dominating to the point that the other spouse does not speak up for what he or she wants.