Divorce tends to be difficult for most couples. When high-value or complex assets are up for division, additional complications and tensions often ensue.
Mediation can present a practical solution for couples grappling with tough issues such as asset division, spousal support, custody arrangements and more. While this method of alternative dispute resolution helps many, in some cases it can prove counterproductive. Discussing this option with your lawyer can give you more insight into whether mediation is likely to work for you.
What mediators do
Mediators act as neutral facilitators for negotiations between the couple. Because divorces can generate significant levels of negativity, the process often takes place with the soon-to-be-exes in different rooms and the mediators going between them.
The mediation process can offer several advantages over litigation. While litigation often ramps up adversarial attitudes, mediation focuses on de-escalation and finding common ground. This can form the basis for continued cooperative and respectful interaction, which becomes essential if you have minor children, and therefore have a need for ongoing communication and cooperation after the divorce.
Another critical aspect of mediation is the measure of privacy it affords. Unlike court proceedings, many of which are public, mediation occurs behind closed doors. Negotiations between you and your spouse remain confidential and cannot form part of later testimony.
Because mediation involves fewer formalities than court proceedings, it ends up costing less time and money. Even if mediation does not ultimately result in a complete agreement covering every issue, you can still use it to narrow down matters and thus reduce the number that ends up in litigation.
Mediators can help both parties frame their issues and express concerns. They can also suggest solutions. However, they may not offer legal advice to either party. They also lack the power to issue orders. Thus, they cannot force either party to produce evidence. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets or otherwise acting deceptively, mediation may just give him or her more time to conceal the evidence.