The word divorce is rarely in the lexicon of a newly married couple and we hope it never will be. However, as time goes on, the possibility of that dreaded thought starts to creep in for some of us. The unfortunate reality some of us have to face is that approximately 50% of all couples marrying today will be facing divorce some time in their future, which is indeed a daunting prospect.
Our purpose in writing this is not to lament this fact or find a way to change it, but rather to look at how this life crisis can be resolved in a way for families to heal and move on with their lives.
Mediation vs. Litigation
For most couples facing a divorce, their first response is to seek an attorney. For some, this might be the best approach. That is, if they feel that they cannot negotiate a parenting plan, child support, alimony and equitable distribution themselves. That may be because they are too hurt, too angry or see their spouse as too powerful. However, the disadvantage of this approach, which is called litigation, can become adversarial. The every nature of litigation takes the negotiation process out of the hands of the parties themselves and gives it to their attorneys. Generally an attorney wants to get the best results for his or her party, often viewed as “win-lose.” The process creates controversies that escalate emotions and problems, not to mention resulting in a prolonged period of time to reach satisfactory resolution of all the issues. It’s not unusual for a couple to spend tens of thousands of dollars on their litigated divorces, even when the lawyers are able to resolve the issues without having a trial in court. Perhaps you may even know of some of those cases.
Our bias is Mediation
In mediation the couple uses attorneys, but very differently. They may or may not consult with an attorney initially, but the negotiation process is done with the help of a mediator. The couple works together with a mediator, or in our case with a husband and wife team (a couple working with a couple) to resolve all of the issues of their divorce – a parenting plan, child support, alimony and equitable distribution of their assets and liabilities.
Mediation is based on the principle of full disclosure of all assets and liabilities in order for the parties to make fully informed decisions on the dissolution of the marital estate. This process usually takes 2 to 5 sessions and results in the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding, which the parties review and then pass on to their attorneys to be used by them as the basis for property settlement agreement.
The difference in the processes is that the couple is empowered to make their own decisions with the guidance of the mediator. The mediator owns the process, but the parties own the results and are more likely to honor them. Instead of controversy, mediation promotes healing for the couple and their family. Mediation is a lot faster and far less expensive than litigation.