Divorce mediation is a gentler and more productive approach to resolving your divorce dispute and reaching a final agreement on your property and parenting matters. It’s a way to minimise the financial and emotional costs of divorcing and to move forward in a way that allows you and your ex to part on far better terms than if you were to go through the court process to work out all the contested details of your divorce. In contrast to litigation, mediation is a guided negotiation process that promotes amicable cooperation and a mutually beneficial end result. Let’s take a look at the many benefits of divorce mediation.
First, what is mediation?Mediation is a process which involves third party intervention in the form of trained, impartial mediators (who can be family law barristers and solicitors who are trained in mediation) to facilitate a process whereby parties negotiate the outcome and consequences of their divorce. It’s a way for ex-partners to resolve matters including the division of their assets and liabilities and their co-parenting arrangements. Now, what are the major pluses about this process?
- You can avoid a costly legal battle
The simple fact is that mediation costs far less than litigating. Litigating involves a great deal of paperwork, court appearances and hours of legal time, which quickly sees fees skyrocketing.
- You can avoid the huge delays in the family courts
Using mediation, disputes are settled in far less time than with adversarial disputes. Unfortunately, due to the increased number and complexity of court cases and the limited number of judges available to hear cases, lengthy delays (12 to 18 months at a minimum) are inevitable when proceeding through the court system. By contrast, mediation can be used early on in a dispute and mediated outcomes can be achieved in months, allowing you to move on with your life with certainty, faster.
- It’s flexible
You have the flexibility to arrange meetings according to your schedule rather than having to wait for a court date.
- It’s convenient
Mediation sessions are arranged at a private, comfortable place that’s convenient to both of you.
- You have control over the process
One of the major benefits of mediation is the fact that the process enables you to maintain the most control over your future. You and your partner are assisted to reach agreement about disputed matters without the need for a judge to impose decisions on you. Whereas with litigation you can’t choose who will hear your case, with mediation you and your ex can decide who to engage as a private mediator.
Clients choosing mediation report feeling more heard and better understood and that they are participating in a process that is fairer for all parties. By contrast, litigating couples can experience the court system as intimidating, intrusive and impersonal. Mediated couples report feeling less rushed than in a courtroom and that they have more of an ability to express their own point of view which leads to greater satisfaction with the outcome.
- It’s better for your co-parenting relationship
Preserving an amicable relationship with your ex is a major benefit of mediation. During mediation, with the assistance of the trained mediator you have the opportunity to discuss and resolve issues in a healthy respectful setting which helps avoid escalation of conflict. You and your ex able to foster a respectful and cooperative ongoing relationship—and in many cases, the relationship is even perceived to have improved. Mediation alows couples to deal with conflicts that arise in a more positive fashion, whereas going to court can often be detrimental to already strained relationships and exacerbate distrust. The traditional adversarial process can often seem to revolve around attributing blame instead of encouraging problem solving and finding resolution as with mediation.
- It’s better for the kids
Parents who want to structure their own solutions that are beneficial to them and their children are often dissatisfied with the traditional adversarial approach. With the appropriate help, parents are generally better equipped than courts to figure out parenting arrangements that best meet the needs of their restructured families.
- It’s supportive
Mediators are trained in handling the difficulties of navigating divorce. They act as neutral facilitators and support each party through the process.
- It’s confidential
Unlike the potential publicity of court proceedings, everything said at the mediation is entirely confidential to the parties (unless specifically agreed otherwise). While contested divorce proceedings are aired in a public courtroom, mediation is completely private and confidential.
- It’s a more relaxed process
It’s not a combative setting where people are “fighting”, which is usually how litigation is experienced. And obviously experiencing high stress levels can have a negative effect on other areas of your life, including your parenting. By contrast, less tension means parties can focus better without emotions being constantly at the fore.
- You can achieve more customised outcomes
Litigation often takes quite a standardised approach to how to divide assets and arrange parenting details. By contrast a divorce mediation can take a more nuanced approach and encourage you and your ex to ‘think outside the box’.
- It offers better longer-term outcomes
Mediation is seen as contributing to achieving a more durable outcome than settlements imposed by a court in an adversarial process. There is usually better compliance with terms and greater long term satisfaction with the agreement.
Sometimes the argument is raised that women do worse from a financial perspective in mediation and that they can be disadvantaged by being forced into unfair agreements. However, the research does not support this. In fact, in some studies, women have reported that the process actually helped them assume more control over managing their personal affairs, and helped them stand up for themselves.
- And finally…even a failed mediation has usually improved the situation
During the mediation process, the issues in dispute are narrowed down. Even if the mediation then fails to settle the dispute, the parties have usually greatly reduced the matters to be determined should the matter need to proceed to court. This translates to less court time being needed and may result in a quicker outcome. Achieving settlement before a final hearing is also more common with mediated matters.
You might like to read the guide to mediation from Family Relationships or our practical tips for getting the most out of mediation. You can also read our article on what the difference is between mediation, collaboration and arbitration.
Mediation can offer you a more amicable divorce process and should be considered as a way for you to resolve your family law dispute. Of course, it may not be right for everyone, for example if family violence is a factor of if your ex may be being dishonest or hiding assets. In that case, court litigation may be inevitable. To discuss whether divorce mediation may be the best option for you, or if you need legal advice regarding your divorce, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.