The divorce process can be time-consuming, uncertain and expensive, particularly when spouses are resolving their differences through litigation. Mediation is a positive alternative to litigation for many couples. In divorce mediation, spouses work with a neutral mediator to work out their differences and reach solutions.
A mediator does not make any decisions about how a case will be resolved. Rather, the mediation will make suggestions and try to facilitate agreement. In mediation, nothing is resolved until both parties agree. In mediation, parties may also work with their lawyers in addition to the mediator.
What are the advantages to divorce mediation?
In North Carolina, courts have recognized the benefits to family law mediation for years. In fact, for divorcing couples engaged in disputes over property distribution, mediation is mandatory.
The primary advantages to mediation over litigation are:
- Mediation can reduce some of the contentiousness associated with divorce: Divorce can create feelings of bitterness, resentment and anger. By working with a mediator in a calm, positive environment, you and your ex-spouse can defuse some of these feelings. This can put you on a better path moving forward from your divorce.
- You and your spouse make the important decisions together: In family litigation, if the spouses cannot agree, a judge will make decisions surrounding child custody, property distribution, alimony, child support and more. While judges apply the laws accurately and try to treat everyone fairly, the fact remains that they are not personally invested in the outcome of the case. You and your spouse, however, are invested, and may be able to bridge the gap and find workable, sensible solutions.
- Mediation is less expensive than litigation: Any person going to trial in family court is likely to incur extremely large legal bills. This money could be better used to finance one’s life after divorce. Mediation is far less costly than litigation, and still leads to fair outcomes.
- Mediation is private: Anything discussed in mediation is confidential. A trial in open court, however, is a matter of public record. Even if parties cannot agree in mediation, these statements cannot later be used in litigation. For individuals who would prefer that their private business stays private, mediation can be beneficial.
With all this said, mediation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If parties are too far apart on their issues and unlikely to reach common ground, mediation may not be worth the time and effort. In many cases, however, mediation can be a strong alternative to litigation. An attorney can provide invaluable assistance in divorce, whether it is resolved in mediation or litigation.