At one time in our society, divorce was a rare occurrence. Statutes and court rules pitted parties against each other requiring that fault be established before the court would grant a divorce; mental cruelty and adultery were two of the foremost grounds for those seeking a divorce. This procedure pitted the parties in an adversarial posture and had a resultant effect upon property division, alimony, and if children were involved, custody, support and visitation.
In the current era of “No Fault Divorce”, the statutory changes have made the process much easier. What has happened is the rate of divorce has grown significantly. However, divorce remains to be a process which produces a high amount of personal trauma to the parties. This effect is magnified when children become innocent parties involved in the process. Divorce does affect children and its effect cannot be minimized. Instead of a court arbitrarily imposing its guidelines when the issues of custody, support, and parenting time (visitation), mediation provides the parties a method to cooperate, communicate and establish their own solutions to the problems that divorce creates.
Mediation is helpful in those situations where unmarried parties have children. It may be easier for a party to leave a relationship in these instances, but if a child is involved, courts have the power to address the issues of custody, support and visitation.
Mediation provides many benefits for parents and children. First and foremost, the parents control the result. They know what is best for their children and what works best for them. Cooperating to find a solution avoids having a finding imposed by a court, which neither party prefers, has benefits. Mediation has proven to save time and money. Fees, costs and court hearings can be avoided when an agreement is reached. A successful result also reduces future conflict between the parties. This process reduces the stress associated with court hearings and provides the parties a method for future interactions.
Mediation also provides parties to a divorce to become personally involved in the division of property, allocation of assets and spousal support. Parties can become inventive is these areas without the specter of a court employing what has been described as “chain saw” surgery in these areas.