There’s never a right time to get a divorce. The process is stressful, costly, and upsetting. Making the decision to initiate the process affects more than the two people named in the paperwork; the children experience the tension, separation, and changes in their routines. The difficulty level of the process can be somewhat alleviated by working with a mediator instead of a divorce litigation attorney.

Both methods lead to a divorce agreement, signed by both parties, and reviewed by their own individual attorneys; however, the path to arrive at a signed agreement is remarkably different in many ways.

1. Speed Up the Process
Working with a mediator takes much less time because both parties are working towards an agreement through discussion with the mediator. What typically slows down the divorce process is the back and forth between attorneys who fight to win the best terms for their clients. When two people work with a mediator, they agree to negotiate amicably and must be willing to make sacrifices to work through the more difficult parts of the negotiation process.

2. Save Money
Mediation saves thousands of dollars. The retainer fees for both parties alone can be ten thousand dollars and few divorces can be completed on the retainer fee. The typical divorce eats through a large portion of the couple’s money, leaving little for each to get started with a new life. You can complete the process in a few weeks with a mediator, if all goes well and you are both able to work through finances, support, visitation, etc. 

3. Less Stress
The average divorce is stressful for many reasons: the length of time it takes to complete; your partner could become hostile; fighting couples play games with kids to win favor or punish the other person; friends and family become entwined in the battle; there are often disputes over money and sometimes one party cuts the other off from money; and the list goes on. If you’ve ever watched the movie, “The War of the Roses,” you’ve had a glimpse of the horrors of divorce. While the movie portrayed an extreme scenario, many couples do report outrageous behavior by their partners. Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people, especially when they are being accused of being bad parents or they fear money being taken away from them.

Mediation encourages open discussion and can only be accomplished when both parties are on speaking terms. If you are working with a mediator and suddenly your partner refuses to negotiate, the mediator will then recommend you each see your own attorney because he or she can no longer assist when you cannot make progress in negotiating.

Ideally, we’d all like to think we can go the less costly and stressful route of mediation. The best way to determine if mediation is appropriate for you is to begin a discussion with your partner to outline terms. If you can both talk civilly and agree on some of the terms, you can take that outline to a mediator and work from there. The mediator will review your progress and let you know how many sessions should be required to reach a signed agreement. 

Divorce will never be a pretty process, but if you can get past this difficult time faster and stay on agreeable terms with your ex, having to see your ex in the future and deal with child visitation will be much easier.