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Why more families are turning to mediation during divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Family Law

Divorce litigation was the only real option available to unhappy couples for many decades. Couples either agreed to terms prior to divorcing or went to court to have a judge interpret community property and custody laws for their families.

In recent decades, mediation has arisen as a popular alternative to litigated divorces. More spouses every year agree to mediate disputes early in the divorce process. Although mediation can seem like a secondary expense and a waste of time for those in high-conflict scenarios, the mediation process does help thousands of couples annually better manage conflict during divorce proceedings.

What inspires many people to attempt mediation when they are about to divorce?

A desire for control

Litigated divorce is an anxiety-inducing process for multiple reasons. One common concern is that a family law judge only has a limited understanding of family circumstances. Couples may worry about the property division terms or custody arrangements that a judge might set based on their understanding of the situation. When spouses want very specific custody terms or need to protect a particular asset during divorce proceedings, mediation is a viable alternative.

Concerns about costs

At first glance, mediation may seem like a more expensive solution because spouses have to pay their own lawyers and an outside professional in addition to covering court costs. However, mediation often serves to limit how long families spend in court. The reduction of time in family court typically translates to reduced overall divorce expenses. People may pay substantially less for uncontested divorces when compared with litigated proceedings.

A desire to maintain privacy

The personal matters that come up during a divorce can be embarrassing in many cases. Issues with anger management, substance abuse or infidelity could become part of the public record if spouses have to testify about marital circumstances in family court. Of course, discussing those issues is often necessary to reach appropriate solutions for property division, financial support and parenting matters. Mediation allows spouses a confidential environment in which to explore marital issues that they believe should have a bearing on the overall divorce process. And, for those with children, the requirement to cooperate instead of fighting each other can also help them establish a healthier dynamic as they prepare to co-parent after the divorce.

Considering mediation as an alternative to a litigated divorce can be a worthwhile option for many couples. Mediation can speed up the divorce process and may result in greater satisfaction with the final outcome.