Your marriage has come to an end. Your differences are too great and no matter how hard you try it’s not going to work. The last few months have been hard. You’re each scared about the future, money, and what it will do to the kids. The tension between you is always there, and sometimes flares out of control. Little things turn into big things, and communication is at an all time low. And now you have to face divorce.
Sadly, you may not be able decide whether to divorce – but you and your spouse can make the important decision about what process to use – which can have an enormous impact on your family both financially and emotionally.
Traditional “litigation” divorces come with a high price tag in terms of money and emotional cost to your family. And realistically, paying that price seldom buys the result you are looking for. Courts are set up using the “adversary system,” designed to have the two sides fight it out. Each side aggressively challenges the other’s version of the truth, supposedly until the “real” truth emerges and then a judge or jury makes a ruling. That might work well in a car accident case or contract dispute. It doesn’t work for families.
With divorcing couples, each person comes with their own truth. Although there is often some agreement, most often there are strongly divergent views on several important issues. Neither person is going to convince the other he or she is wrong. And the effort to do that can be painful and costly. The good news is that the mediation process does not ask who is right and who is wrong, or who should win and who should lose. Mediation asks, “what is best for the family”, and” how can we compromise and reach a fair agreement.”
The mediation process accepts that each person is entitled to his or her own truth but does not require that either must prevail in order to resolve the case with a fair and equitable settlement. Instead, mediation provides a container in which both members of the couple express their own thinking, while also listening carefully their spouse or partner, so each understands the other’s underlying needs, interests and goals. The time, emotional energy, and creativity otherwise used to fight in court can be used by the couple as they work as a team to create solutions and agreements that consider both perspectives.
It is not easy – it takes commitment and effort to work as a team with the spouse you are divorcing. But the benefits can be tremendous. The children are more protected from the conflict between their parents. The financial cost is significantly lower, and the process can be completed much more quickly. Working with a skilled mediation professional can be a more humane experience and result in better agreements that work for the entire family.