It's a popular, and true, saying: “Hurt people hurt people.” When you're considering divorce, you're no doubt feeling hurt. It's a natural instinct to want to lash out and hurt the person you see as causing the pain--your estranged spouse. Litigation offers an excellent (if expensive) opportunity to do this. The problem is, the cycle tends to escalate, causing more and more pain, and more and more expense, on both sides. The end result is often unsatisfying.
It's impossible to remove all of the pain from the divorce process, but it is possible to avoid escalating it, and to develop a more productive way of interacting with your soon-to-be ex. Divorce mediation can help. Divorce mediation involves you and your spouse meeting with a neutral mediator to identify and resolve issues in your divorce. The mediator facilitates communication, but does not propose or order the terms of your settlement. The mediator will draw up a marital settlement agreement after you and your spouse have agreed on terms.
There are a lot of reasons divorce mediation might be the best choice for you and your spouse:
As mentioned above, the more hurt you feel, the more you feel like hurting. Mediation's focus is on problem-solving for the future, rather than dragging up misdeeds from the past, as often happens in litigation. As a result, you and your spouse are less likely to have occasion for personal attacks. Also, the process of working together to identify issues and find resolutions sets the stage for better communication post-divorce—a real bonus if you have kids and will need to stay in communication.
In a litigated divorce, your judge might set certain terms of your divorce, whether or not those terms work best for you and your family. In mediation, you have the flexibility to work out arrangements that meet the needs of your family--and who knows those needs better than you and your spouse? This is especially important in custody and parenting time determinations. Also, when you have more control over the outcome, you tend to be more satisfied with it, and more willing to comply with it. And when you and your spouse comply with your settlement agreement, neither of you needs to drag the other into court later to have the agreement enforced.
Mediation operates more or less on your schedule, not according to a court docket. As a result, it often takes less time than a litigated divorce. The length of the mediation process is dictated by how long it takes you and your spouse to reach settlement. If you're both motivated to resolve things quickly, you can. Another bonus is that mediation often costs less than litigating your divorce. Litigation requires hours of attorneys' time for document review, preparation and court appearances—and the more fighting involved, the higher your bill.
Divorce mediation isn't right for everyone, but it's not only for people who are already amicable. Before you initiate a divorce process that is hostile, drawn-out, and expensive, you owe it to yourself to investigate whether California divorce mediation could be the best choice for you.
To learn more about California divorce mediation, or about how Shaffer & Associates' experienced San Diego family law attorneys can help you unwind your marriage with less stress and less expense, contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to schedule a free consultation.