The word "divorce" often conjures images of bickering couples sitting in a courtroom while a judge patiently listens before making a final say on the matter. While this may have been the way of divorce in the past, times have certainly changed. Feelings about divorce proceedings have shifted, and couples are now looking to divorce alternatives like mediation to dissolve their marriage.
As you have probably heard from someone before, mediation is a great alternative to traditional divorce proceedings, especially if you are in good standing with your soon-to-be ex-partner. Open communication is key during mediation; and when done well, couples are often able to maintain control over these five major divorce issues:
1. Property division. Usually considered the bane of any divorce, couples can make short work of property division during mediation by keeping negotiations open with their former partner and working together to come to a settlement.
2. Parenting time and decision making. Also referred to as custody in other states, parenting time and decision making is another family law matter that can cause contention during traditional divorce proceedings. Couples who go through mediation, however, must work together to determine what is best for their children, not focus on their hurt feelings and animosities toward the other.
3. Child support. Coming to an agreement about who will pay child support and how much can be negotiated during mediation. It's important to point out that the agreed upon amount does have to meet state guidelines and will likely not be approved by a judge if it does not.
4. Alimony. Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is another financial decision couples can make during mediation. As with child support payments, an agreed upon alimony amount will need to adhere to state laws, which take a number of factors into consideration when determining a fair amount.
5. Filing timeline. Because you have to wait for courtrooms and a judge to become available for traditional divorces, a lot of people complain about how long the process usually takes. With mediation, couples set their own time schedule, oftentimes cutting down on the amount of time it takes to resolve issues and file a divorce petition with the court.
Although mediation isn't for everyone, it does offer control to those willing to take it and work through the unique challenges it presents divorcing couples.