The Benefits of Mediation When Getting Divorced

Posted: 26 March 2021

Let’s face it, court-based divorce can be stressful, expensive and emotionally challenging for everyone involved. But did you know there’s an alternative that makes getting divorced less tense and more affordable?

Mediation provides a calmer, more productive approach to navigating the tricky legal issues of divorce and usually ends up being less stressful, less expensive and makes moving on easier for everyone involved.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary process that’s used by married couples who want to agree the terms of their divorce without going to court. It gives you the opportunity to plan your future in an atmosphere of mutual respect. With the assistance of a fully qualified mediator, you and your spouse will be able to reach an agreement with both your best interests at heart.

The Role of a Divorce Mediator

Without taking any sides, a divorce mediator will work with you and your spouse to negotiate a settlement that both of you are mutually happy with. Generally, they’ll help you better understand each other and help you communicate your interests so that you can explore all options and make good decisions.

The Benefits of Opting for Divorce Mediation

It’s Less Stressful

Mediation is less stressful than using the court to settle your disputes. The idea behind it is to encourage and promote friendly communication that’s mutually beneficial. A mediators job is not only to help ease tension but to help both parties come to an arrangement they’re both happy with.

Less stress for you and your spouse means less stress on everyone involved and can help you move on with little or no conflict. Your children will benefit, as will your workplace performance. People going through a tough divorce tend to be more distracted when they’re at work and less productive overall. But, if the mediation process goes well, your divorce will not affect any other areas of your life.

It’s Cost-Effective

Because a mediator isn’t a highly paid solicitor but is a qualified professional, mediation can be much more cost-effective when compared to going to court. In fact, on average, mediation is roughly 40- 60% cheaper. However, the exact cost will ultimately depend on the complexity of your situation and the assets that need dividing. Still, there’s very little debate around the fact that divorce mediation saves money.

In addition to saving on solicitor fees, you and your spouse will not need to pay for any pre-trial manoeuvring, paperwork or similar expenses. The amount that you’ll both pay (even if the mediation process is lengthy) will be a tiny percentage of the cost of a full-blown court battle.

It’s Quicker and More Flexible

In some cases, mediation can take a considerable amount of time but on average it usually takes around 4 to 10 weeks. In contrast, a complicated and drawn-out divorce can take months or even years. The main purpose of mediation is to come to a mutual agreement relevantly quickly and with minimal conflict.

Due to the negotiable nature of mediation, lines of communication are left open to allow for constructive brainstorming. This flexibility allows for a collaborative approach rather than one filled with conflict that leaves everyone feeling exhausted. You are encouraged to reach fair outcomes where both parties have an influence on the outcome.

It’s Private and Confidential

There’s very little privacy for couples who choose the court system to get divorced. Of course, no one wants their personal lives aired in public. But, if you and your spouse get divorced in court, anyone can attend and listen in to everything that’s said. So, a traditional divorce may not be the best option if you value your privacy which is where mediation can come in.

One of the most desirable things about divorce mediation is that it’s completely confidential. No one except your mediator will know anything about what’s discussed during the sessions. They’ll carefully handle of all the paperwork to ensure that both you and your spouse’s privacy is respected.

It Sets The Foundation for Positive Parenting

Getting divorced in a litigated court setting can create mistrust and quite often conflict during a sensitive time of establishing a post-marriage parenting relationship. Conversely, a significant benefit of divorce mediation is that parents are supported in making mutual decisions when it comes to their children. This collaborative approach gives parents skills to respectfully work with each other to establish a positive co-parenting relationship.

The Divorce Mediation Process

Before you commit to using divorce mediation to separate from your spouse, you need to know exactly what’s involved in the process. Whilst every divorce is different; there are 5 basic steps involved. Let’s now take you through each one so you know what to expect and how you can prepare.

Step 1: Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MAIM)

The first meeting you have with a mediator is called a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MAIM) and will cover a few things.

The MAIM will last roughly an hour and will allow you to tell the mediator about your situation and the issues you need resolving. If you have children over the age of 10, the mediator will also explain their rights to have their views taken into account too. This is a crucial part of the process and is designed to support the well-being and health of your children.

At the end of the meeting, the mediator will tell you whether your case is suitable for divorce mediation. You can then decide whether to proceed or explore another option. If you and your spouse both agree to try mediation, an appointment will then be made for your first session.

Step 2: Gathering The Important Information

For the sessions to be successful, you, your spouse and the mediator need to be as fully informed as possible about the facts concerning your case. This is known as the information gathering stage and is similar to the MIAM (just more in-depth). If the information that needs presenting at this stage is in dispute or unavailable, the mediator will try to find ways of determining what’s correct and applicable to your case.

During this stage, the mediator’s job is to ensure that you and your spouse have all the facts and information to negotiate a legally binding agreement that you won’t regret signing in the future.

Step 3: Framing The Negotiation Stage

During the framing stage, you and your spouse express your reasons for wanting specific outcomes in the settlement. You will hear the mediator refer to these as your “interests and needs”.

Identifying these help to frame the goal of the mediation process and contribute to finding a mutual resolution.

You may find that your “interests and needs” overlap with your spouses, especially if they involve other people such as your children. If this is the case, it increases the likelihood of finding an agreement that you’re both happy with.

Some divorce mediators like to conduct the framing stage in separate sessions. Others favour a joint session because they believe it lays a better foundation for the negotiations.

Step 4: Negotiation

Once the mediator has helped you and your spouse state your “interests and needs”, it’s time to negotiate a settlement. This usually begins with the mediator exploring all of the possible options. With their help, you’ll evaluate the options and narrow them down to the ones that work. Getting to this final combination of potential options will involve concessions and compromises on both sides.

Throughout this stage, your mediator will emphasise the problem-solving aspect of divorce mediation. After all, the whole purpose of it is to find a solution that addresses you and your spouse’s most important “interests and needs” as fully as possible.

Step 5: Concluding The Mediation Process

When sufficient sessions have been attended, and general agreements have been made on the issues discussed, the mediator will issue 2 documents that must be given to a Solicitor to draft a consent order application to the court.

Memorandum of Understanding

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a document that indicates that an agreement has been reached. Each party’s solicitor will use this to compile the final arrangement as agreed during the mediation sessions.

Open Financial Summary

This is also known as an Open Summary of Information and is a document that discloses all information regarding both parties’ financial situations.

This is used by a solicitor as part of the Statement of Financial Information Form, which the court requires as part of the legally binding order.

Should I Use Mediation for My Divorce?

Mediation is generally suitable for most divorce cases. However, if the relationship you have with your spouse is particularly bitter, it might be quite difficult to keep the peace throughout the sessions. Mediation may also not be suitable if domestic violence has occurred. If this is the case, the court will normally rule that you’re allowed to skip the requirement to consider mediation.

If there are complexities involved with your separation such as owning a business with your spouse, mediation might not be the best option. If this is the case, you may want to consider collaborative law which is an alternative to divorce mediation. Similar to mediation, the aim with collaborative law is to agree a mutual solution while trying to avoid any conflict that could obstruct the process.

How THB Legal Can Help You 

THB Legal have a team of solicitors and mediators in Chelmsford who have a wealth of experience helping couples separate cost-effectively and with minimal conflict. Unlike traditional divorce proceedings, most people who choose our divorce mediation service were satisfied with the process and concluding results. We fully understand that getting divorced can be extremely emotional and challenging, which is why our solicitors offer a compassionate service with the aim to make it less stressful and more comfortable for your entire family.

Our mediation service can cover all family issues ranging from divorce and separation (including finance and property matters) to children matters (including residence, contact arrangements and schooling) and mediation concerning pre-and post-nuptial agreements.

Call us on 01245 493 959 or email us to make an initial appointment so you can find out more about whether divorce mediation is the right option for you.

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