when divorce mediation is the right choice

For many couples, working with your spouse and a mediator might be an ideal solution for a difficult decision and reduce potential conflicts. But, mediation will only work if you or your spouse are working towards the same goal. You’re more likely to have a successful divorce mediation if all or most of the following statements are true.

You and Your Spouse Agree to Divorce

In many cases, the option to divorce is mutual. In the event you or your spouse agree that divorce is your next step, you can file a petition for divorce together or, one spouse could register with the other’s knowledge. When you’re on the same page, it’s often easier to negotiate and work together to obtain resolutions for any unresolved divorce issues in mediation.

No History of Domestic Violence

With divorce mediation comes the need for regular meetings between both spouse, your mediator and attorneys. If you or your partner have a history of domestic abuse, many mediators, including myself, won’t take your case because it’s difficult for the mediator to determine whether the victim agrees to the settlement because they truly agree or it is a decision based on fear or intimidation from the abuser.

Both Spouses Are Forthcoming About Finances

Probably the most complicated part of any divorce would be financial. Both spouses must be willing to provide the other (and the mediator) with very sensitive information, such as documentation about bank accounts, retirement, pensions, stocks, and all other assets and debts. In most marriages, it is common for one spouse to be more familiar with the family assets and obligations than the other. If you don’t have all relevant financial information, you’ll have to investigate and divulge your marital property before you agree to a proposed property settlement.

You Agree on Child Custody/Conservatorship Terms

Next to finances, child custody and visitation is usually the most challenging area of divorce. Most parents can set aside differences for their children’s well being, but sometimes even the best intentions are met with difficulties.

Divorce mediation is a great way to establish the “new normal” and make decisions on how to work together in co-parenting. Deciding who will care for the children on a day-to-day basis, accountability for financial child support, health care, school districts and the type and frequency of visitation with the noncustodial parent.

There’s no question that parents know what’s best for their children: the best method to make sure your divorce decree protects your children’s best interest would be to negotiate the terms for custody (conservatorship) with your spouse. When obstacles are met, your mediator will offer advice and potential solutions on how to find agreement with your spouse. Working through this process in a confidential setting is one of the big benefits of divorce mediation.

In the event you or your spouse disagree on custody, particularly if there are allegations of abuse or negligence, you’ll need court intervention. The court will attempt to determine what structure is in your children’s best interest by using your state’s process before the judge makes a final decision.

Laura Dawn Ouin is the founder of Third Coast Mediation & Communication in Dallas, Texas, and is passionate about conflict resolution in all forms. Equipped with over 20 years of experience in business development, conflict resolution and communication development, she facilitates solutions through strategic mediations as well as developing written communication for web, press releases, and media distribution. When it is critical that your audience needs to understand your message, Laura Dawn helps you be heard.

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