So, you decided it's time for divorce. What are your options now? If you find yourself dreading the protracted, bitter court battle you believe inevitable, you should know about options such as divorce mediation.
Mediation can work for divorcing couples who may not be able to agree on everything but have an interest in resolving their disputes outside a formal litigation setting. Some Pennsylvania courts may require mediation or order it in individual cases.
How mediation works
Pennsylvania mediators act as neutral facilitators who help divorcing spouses find common ground and compromise on contentious issues. You can mediate a variety of matters, including alimony, property distribution, child custody and other issues important to you. If mediation reaches a successful conclusion, your mediator, often with the assistance of the parties' attorneys, will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding or a Marital Settlement Agreement for submission to the court and finalization as part of the divorce judgment.
Ways mediation can help you
One of mediation's benefits includes the reduced antagonism and resultant lowering of stress for both parties. Especially if you have children, maintaining an amicable relationship with your ex can help you manage conflict effectively in the future. Because of its relative informality, mediation typically costs less and takes less time than litigation. Many couples also appreciate having more control over the proceedings than they would in a courtroom.
When mediation is not best
However, mediation is not for everyone. While you do not need to be in perfect harmony with your soon-to-be-ex for mediation to work, you do need some level of investment in constructive communication. When one party has no commitment to work towards compromise in good faith, mediation may end up wasting everyone's time. Some serious issues can also compromise mediation or put one party in a highly vulnerable position. This can happen if one spouse is hiding assets or if domestic violence or substance abuse are implicated.
A knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you understand if mediation would be a good option for you. Whether you decide to pursue mediation or litigation, you will also need a qualified lawyer to advocate for your interests and keep you informed every step of the way.