You've decided to seek a divorce. Your nerves are frayed; the in-laws are asked pointed questions; the children are beginning to act up in all-too-transparent ways; and your pleasantness is in the midst of an earthshaking landslide. What can you do? Clearly, you could hire legal advice. But who? Here's a list of reasons why working with a trained mediator can often be a more effective way to get things settled.
1. It is cheaper.
When both people involved in the separation meet with one Family Mediator they can share the cost, which varies depending on circumstances, but which commonly ranges from around £500 to £2,500 in total. If both people pursue things through separate solicitors to represent them in the divorce, each is highly likely to end up paying three or four times as much for a contested court case.
2. You stay in control.
In Family Mediation the couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions are made, when the divorce Petition is filed, and what the terms of the divorce will be in the Consent Order. Each step is by agreement, in contrast to the adversarial process in which lawyers set court dates and judges, who know very little about the family’s circumstances,make decisions and judgements which actually shape their futures. Mediation helps you stay in control of your future and of your finances.
3. It is quicker.
Data shows that typically, mediated cases take just over three months to finalise divorce or separation settlements while cases that go to court take four times longer.
4. Easier on the children.
The worst aspect of a divorce for children is the conflict between the parents. It will be traumatic enough for them, but they can heal knowing that their parents are working together to make adult decisions and will not put them in the middle. And, whilst it is not suitable in all cases, older children can often be brought into in the mediation process so they help play an active part in the settlement that is being shaped,
5. Easier on you.
The way your marriage ends will significantly impact the way you approach your future relationships. When you use a mediator to help both of you communicate and make important decisions, it can be easier to move forward and accept the past, rather than turning hurt and anger into an expensive court battle.
6. Paperwork done for you.
Many people try to do their own divorces these days, but run into difficulty trying to understand the laws and the complex paperwork involved.
7. You can still got to court.
When people use family mediation, they do not give up their right to go to court. If you are not satisfied in mediation, you can stop at any time, retain a separate solicitor and have the judge decide the issues. What has occurred in mediation will remain confidential, so the parties can start afresh.
8. You get legal information.
In family mediation you will be provided with enough legal information to make your own decisions about what is fair. Each person is encouraged to consult with a separate solicitor towards the end of the process, since any mediated settlement will need to go to court to be made legally binding.
9. Emotions can be managed.
Many people simply want to be heard and understood in the divorce process. However, on their own this can get out of control, as each person triggers anger and resentment in the other -- often unintentionally. A mediator can assist the parties in acknowledging feelings whilst also helping them make fair and reasonable decisions..
10. It's confidential.
In family mediation, all discussions and tentative agreements are confidential. They are covered by legal “privilege”. This makes it safe to propose solutions for possible consideration without having them all thought out. This can lead to new and more creative solutions neither party had previously considered without the fear of their suggestions and proposals being used at a later date in legal proceedings.
11. It builds on the positive.
In mediation, both parties are encouraged to focus on the future and to find common ground for agreement. In court, each side must emphasize the negative about the other person in order to "win" against the other. Especially when there will be future contact between the parties, such as in parenting, whatever goodwill remains between the parties should be preserved and not destroyed.
To read more about the benefits of family mediation, go to the website of National Family Mediation