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Using mediation to reach a divorce agreement

Divorce is known to be incredibly stressful, emotional, and often frustrating. It can bring up images of arguments and long courtroom battles. However, not all divorce has to be a war in court. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods exist, one of the most common being mediation.

Mediation allows a divorcing couple to discuss terms of their agreement outside of court with the guidance of a neutral third party called the mediator. It is often a quicker and less expensive process than traditional litigation, but those are not its only benefits. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of mediation to consider if filing for divorce:

Advantages

In many mediation cases, the process is less costly and much quicker than court proceedings. Most people find it less stressful as well, because it brings the focus of discussions to each party's interests and their beliefs about what is best for the children, rather than encouraging a hostile, "try to take everything" mindset.

Other benefits include:

· More control over the terms of the agreement

· Tailoring the agreement to your family's unique needs

· Less likely to need modifications later

· Less hostility between the parties afterwards

· Mentally healthier for your children

Disadvantages

Like anything, mediation has its drawbacks. The biggest disadvantage of mediation is that both parties must be completely willing to engage in it. If either party is unwilling to negotiate, mediation will not be effective.

Other downsides include:

· You must be able to trust that the other party will not hide any information or assets

· Manipulation or coercion defeats the purpose of the process and/or it may prevent the agreement from being approved

· If you begin mediation and later decide to pursue traditional litigation anyway, you will have already spent money on mediation

Should you use the mediation process?

The bottom line is that every family's needs are different in divorce. Mediation can be a great alternative to court proceedings for some couples, but you must weigh your choices and decide what is best in your situation. A skilled family law attorney can help you look over the options available to you and guide you through the divorce process.

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