Divorce is commonly portrayed in the media as a long drawn out court battle, requiring a lot of time and money to resolve. While it may seem like the only option if you and your spouse disagree on big things like finances and what’s best for the children, there are alternatives. One of the most popular divorce options is mediation.
Two questions to ask yourself are:
1) Why is divorce mediation considered a healthier process
2) How do you know that divorce mediation is right for you?
Question #1: Why is mediation considered a healthier divorce process?
From what’s depicted in the media and in movies, divorce is full drama and spouses have no control over the outcome. But, for most couples, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“A healthy or healthier divorce is where two spouses are committed to resolving their divorce and retaining control of their decisions, preferably by any other means than submitting to a traditional court contested litigation."
~Cris Pastore, Attorney-Mediator, Main Line Family Law Center
Cris Pastore, attorney-mediator and co-founder at Main Line Family Law Center, says, “I won’t sugar coat what divorce is. Divorce is very difficult. It is very taxing for those involved and their families.” In mediation for divorce, spouses are not participating in a court contested divorce. They never have to retain their own attorney or draw their children into a long court battle.
In order for both spouses have control of their decisions and what they want for their families, the mediator, as a neutral third party, must educate the spouses on basic legal concepts. An attorney-mediator is qualified to also explain the divorce law so spouses can understand their rights and obligations if they couldn’t agree and ended up in court.
Mediation for divorce also recognizes that people have varied needs while preparing for divorce, from financial planning to dividing assets to maintaining healthy relationships with immediate and extended family. Not all mediators are the same, however, Pastore explains. His firm uses an attorney-mediator who can explain the law and a holistic, integrated team approach, so that “no stone is left unturned.”
Question #2: Will divorce mediation work for me?
To use divorce mediation, you actually don’t have to agree on anything. The key to preparing for a healthy divorce using mediation (no court) requires spouses to just agree to come to the table with the best of intentions.
You cannot be out to harm or hurt each other.
You both have to agree that their marriage has ended.
You are not interested in spending a lot of time or money to just prove a point.
You both recognize that it’s not just about getting together and dividing assets, but it’s also an opportunity to bring closure to the marriage emotionally.
You both recognize they need to work together in the best interest of their children and families.
“[In private mediation] there are no hearings, judges, or bulldog attorneys.
The process is quick and efficient, and it is aimed to protect and provide for the family after the divorce is final.”
~Cris Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center
If you believe you both fit this, then your best option to achieve a fair settlement is the mediation process. Coming into mediation with a win-or-lose mindset will be an obstacle in preparing for a healthy divorce. If they are there for the right reasons, mediation will ensure that spouses start on equal footing and everyone’s needs are heard.
Pastore explains, “In mediation, I will never have a situation where one client does all the talking. That just doesn’t work. I am always going to engage both clients to speak because I need to know what they’re thinking, what their thoughts are, what their opinions are, and what is most important to them.”
About the Author
Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law CenterSharon Pastore is Co-Founder of Main Line Family Law Center, which was established in 2012. She is on a mission to generate awareness, understanding and trust around mediation as a healthier option for separation and divorce well before a client's first consultation. She draws upon over 17 years in nonprofit, education and marketing to enable more spouses to "get to the table" and mediate successfully.
Topics: Healthy Legal Options