Many Pennsylvania families will face significant lifestyle changes this year due to divorce. If yours is one of them and your family also includes children, you'll no doubt want to navigate the process through whatever means that will have the least negative impact on your kids. There's no escaping the fact that divorce affects every family member, and typically each person's needs are unique.
As a parent, you can be hopeful that with a strong support system in place, your children will be able to come to terms with the situation and adapt to your new way of doing things without too much stress. Divorce mediation is a form of negotiation many parents choose in order to achieve fair and satisfactory settlements. Like most legal processes, there are potential benefits and downsides to mediation.
In addition to keeping your children's best interests in mind, getting divorced without going broke may also be one of your greatest concerns. The following list shows some of the positive implications mediation may have on your situation, including your finances:
- Litigation tends to be more expensive than mediation. In fact, many cite the process as the most economically feasible way to resolve custody, property and financial issues in divorce.
- You may be able to complete the mediation process sooner than you would if you and your co-parent would enter litigation.
- If you choose to litigate your divorce, you'll want to be aware that it is a public process. A court reporter records all that is said and done in the courtroom and those records are available to the general population.
- Mediation is a confidential negotiation process and notes are discarded once the process is complete.
- You and your co-parent have more control regarding mediation meetings than you would in a judge's courtroom.
If you and your spouse get along well enough to have peaceful discussions about important divorce topics, then you may be able to avoid long, drawn-out court sessions by choosing to mediate your divorce.
As we mentioned earlier, there are usually benefits and downsides to most divorce options. The key is to explore all that are available then determine which is most viable in your particular circumstances. The following issues are reasons people often cite as potential negative aspects of divorce mediation:
- If your spouse has an aggressive personality and you often feel intimidated when having one-on-one discussions, you may feel like you're at a disadvantage in a mediated setting.
- Since you enter mediation without benefit of documented disclosure of assets, you really have to trust that your spouse is being honest.
- If you think your spouse is the type who would try to hide assets to keep them from being subject to property division, you might want to litigate your divorce instead.
- Mediation does not provide you an opportunity to discuss issues that might typically be open game in a litigated divorce, such as infidelity or abusive situations.
- Past behaviors are left in the past. The purpose of mediation is to negotiate fair agreements for current issues that affect your future, such as child custody, property division or alimony.
No two divorces are exactly the same. The good news is that you can weigh all your options and determine which one most aligns with your particular needs and goals. If you're someone who would rather have a personal advocate speaking and acting on your behalf, then mediation probably isn't the right choice for you. However, if you would rather settle your divorce by avoiding confrontation and negotiating your own agreement, you might want to give mediation a try. If you determine it is not working, you can switch options.