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Divorce 101: Negotiating through mediation

Divorce mediation is an option for couples who wish to negotiate the terms of their separation in a more civil fashion.

Couples who file for divorce in Massachusetts are often forced to make many difficult decisions regarding the division of property, child custody and parenting schedules. While some couples are best suited to dispute these issues in court through litigation, other couples may fair best negotiating the terms of the settlement through mediation. Mediation allows couples to discuss and create the terms of their own divorce settlement with minimal or no help from the court system. Not only does this enable couples to come up with terms that are best for their unique situation, but mediation has many other benefits as well.

What is mediation?

Rather than speak through attorneys and have a judge ultimately decide what will take place in a divorce decree, mediation puts the power in the hands of the couple. Couples meet in a non-confrontational atmosphere with or without their attorneys. The mediation session takes place in the presence of a third-party mediator who is able to answer any question either party may have, and help to direct the course of the session. Couples are then able to discuss different topics, such as property division, parenting plans, child custody, child support and alimony. Whether the mediator travels between one room and the other speaking

Advantages of mediation

Although mediation is not for everyone, it does lend some advantages to couples who wish to process their divorce in a timely manner, according to the American Bar Association. Couples are able to schedule mediation sessions around their daily lives rather than have to wait for a lengthy court date. Many settlements are created in just one or two appointments. Furthermore, mediation often costs less than traditional divorce since it bypasses the court system.

Mediation is often less stressful for couples, as the sessions take place in a laid-back environment. Studies show that people who go through mediation often maintain a better relationship post-divorce than they would had they gone through an emotional courtroom battle. This is especially helpful for parents and business partners who may have to deal with one another following the divorce.

Studies also show that people are more compliant with the terms of the divorce if they have had an active role in creating the settlement. In some cases, couples are able to create terms that would not have been an option if they had gone through a traditional courtroom divorce.

Finding legal representation

Since a mediator cannot lend personalized advice to either party during the session, it may be helpful to have an attorney with you during the sessions. With an advocate by your side, you may receive personalized answers to your questions. This may help to ensure you receive everything that you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

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