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January 24th, 2017 by Marta J. Papa


Part 6 – Thus far, I have discussed the Pro Se Divorce and the Non-Contested Divorce, both of which are executed primarily by the couples themselves. Either of these types of divorce will allow couples to save a great deal of time and expense in dissolving their marital union. In these instances, couples retain control of self-determining the property distribution, financial requirements, and the necessary childcare custody/support issues inherent in their relationship.

At times, however, even the most well-meaning couples require outside support in order for them to advance towards their marital dissolution goals. In such instances, the third recourse for couples to divorce is through using the assistance of a mediator, which brings us to the Mediated Divorce option.

In a Mediated Divorce, both parties together attend sessions with a trained mediator, who facilitates their decision-making. The same key marital issues are covered—property/cash flow/children. The mediator is simply a neutral third party who structures the mediation sessions, promotes communication between the parties, helps them identify and clarify marital issues, and keeps the participants moving forward toward an agreed upon settlement. Couples still retain self-determination and control, without the necessary imposition of a judge or court order.

The mediator’s role is to simply focus and maintain attention on the issues at hand and not on the emotional distress that has brought couples to this point in their relationship. In addition, legal advice is always reserved for attorneys not the mediator. So, in this capacity, a mediator is neither a therapist nor a legal advisor for either party. Rather, a mediator is one who has the skills to direct and keep the focus on the issues couples are attempting to resolve between themselves. A skilled mediator, therefore, provides a respectful forum where differences can be discussed and then resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

Mediation is an excellent option for those couples who are capable of retaining civility in the midst of decision making and are truthful in providing full disclosure of all information required. It is not unusual for mediation to be a process of learning/education for both parties, as often each spouse is more knowledgeable about some facets of the marital lifestyle than the other. The office of a mediator, consequently, provides a place of safety where knowledge can be exchanged, shared, and discussed…for the benefit of both spouses. Thus, the goals for these couples are to reach an agreement of marital dissolution that will meet the highest needs of each party and those of their children.

For those couples capable of cooperation and civility, a Mediated Divorce allows divorcing parties to direct their attention to present concerns and future needs, rather than past hurts and disappointments. Though both parties recognize reconciliation is no longer an option, both desire to proceed without adversarial posturing. Thus, a costly, litigated, combative divorce is avoided, while money and time are saved and can be put to better use, such as supporting the children through this transition. These couples retain self-determination in their marital dissolution and avoid the more injurious self-devastation litigated divorce proceedings can bring, when multiple attorneys and the court system become involved. This style of divorce is usually a win-win solution for both parties!