When a couple decides to end their marriage, what lies ahead may not be a clear picture, and figuring out which path to take can be confusing. For couples who would like their wishes to be heard and who are able to work together to some degree, electing to pursue mediated divorce may be a step in the right direction.
What is mediated divorce?
In a mediated divorce, the couple meets with a neutral third party called a mediator, who is usually a lawyer trained and certified in mediation. The mediator listens to each spouse’s wishes for the divorce settlement and helps the spouses reach an agreement on the issues that must be resolved in their divorce. These issues commonly include:
- Child custody and visitation: Where will the child(ren) live and how often will they spend time with the non-custodial parent?
- Property division: Who will receive which assets and property of the couple? How will debts be allocated?
- Alimony or spousal support: Will one spouse receive financial support from the other? If so, how much and for how long?
When these questions are resolved with the help of the mediator, the couple presents a comprehensive divorce settlement to a judge for approval and to finalize the divorce.
What are the benefits of mediated divorce?
There are several benefits to choosing mediated divorce. In Connecticut, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized in court. Mediation can help reduce the time it takes to complete one’s divorce because the couple can use this time to reach an agreement through mediation. When the couple appears in court after the waiting period, with a negotiated settlement agreement in hand, the matter can be finalized much more quickly than in a litigated divorce. In a litigated divorce, each issue may be presented to the judge for his or her decision only after the waiting period, potentially adding significant time and length to the divorce process.
Also in contrast to litigation, only one neutral mediator facilitates the mediation, as opposed to litigated divorce where each spouse may be represented by a different lawyer. Using one mediator can help preserve the couple’s assets.
Mediation is particularly beneficial for parents who will co-parent a child together after the divorce. Mediation helps parents maintain a working relationship, and it also provides them the freedom and flexibility to come up with creative solutions that work for their family and children. Further, people often experience greater satisfaction and success when they make the arrangements themselves instead of a judge.
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