Monday, April 7, 2008

Divorce Mediation Counseling

A divorce is undoubtedly a life changing experience that's usually not the easiest of times for most people, particularly when there are many important issues to agree upon, such as co-parenting or deciding what to do with the family home. Stress levels are running high and all too often, emotions dictate how the marriage will come to an end, either as amicably as possible, keeping both spouses best interests in mind, or as an adversarial and lengthy power struggle.

Some of the key points of divorce mediation include:

- The division of marital property and shared assets.
- Resolving matters of spousal support.
- Making decisions regarding child support.
- Deciding on shared parenting arrangements and schedules.

Making each and every phase of the entire divorce mediation counseling process work for you is entirely possible, regardless of your situation or how complex you think the issues may be. Once couples realize and accept that the whole purpose of mediating is so they will both be able to come to mutual resolutions about their divorce, the expertise of the mediator will then keep each phase progressing smoothly.

To fully take advantage of the divorce mediation process, keep the following important points in mind:

The first session of mediation will be extremely crucial as all of the ground rules will be set, with the mediator outlining what you should expect from the process, and also, what will be expected of you.

Mediation will help to minimize the likelihood of any problems after the divorce is final, although future disagreements may also be resolved with a mediator rather than a court dispute. While mediators do not work for free, the rates are substantially lower than paying for two lawyers to handle the divorce.

For couples with children, entering into mediation is an excellent way to figure out workable co-parenting arrangements, utilizing the knowledge and experience of the mediator who doesn't have a vested interest in the children, other than ensuring that their best interests are met first. Even parents who want to do the right thing often have a hard time communicating with one another through litigation, whereas mediating allows both spouses to be heard while also having the advice of a neutral party.

The average divorce mediation takes anywhere from two to 10 sessions from start to finish, while the average litigated divorce is generally a year in length, and in some cases, two or three years, or longer, of emotionally draining court proceedings.

Any issues that absolutely cannot be agreed upon during mediation can be left to the court to decide, or for the couple's attorneys to negotiate. Also, either party always has the option of ending the mediation at any time, and instead, opting to litigate their disputes in the courtroom.

The positive setting that mediation provides, along with the unbiased counseling and suggestions given are largely the reason an estimated 90% of all couples are able to reach an agreement without litigating the terms of their divorce in court. That, coupled with the fact that mediation is designed to focus solely on the future rather than on past wrongs, or placing blame for the demise of the marriage, are what makes the process so highly successful.

Photo: djcodrin

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