The field of Family Law has gone through many changes during the last decade. Changes in settlement options, custody arrangements, and spousal support issues have all been debated and altered to varying degrees. But one thing that has not changed is the complexity of litigated divorce proceedings and the public’s interest in pursuing alternatives.
Mediation has had a long and favorable place in resolving labor disputes so it is only natural that mediation has gained widespread acceptance in an equally volatile field-divorce and separation disputes. The emotional toll of divorce is no small concern for couples and their families when facing this very intimidating process.
Conflict and anger can turn even the most reasonable people into intense adversaries. Seeking ways to defuse conflict and minimize trauma for their children, couples are choosing mediation as an alternative to a traditionally litigated divorce.
One major concern that is answered by mediation is to mitigate the disruption and trauma to the family’s children. When the level of conflict rises with parents it has an established “trickle-down effect” which can have a serious impact on vulnerable children. In litigated divorces an adversarial relationship is established from the very beginning of the process and by virtue of very nature of litigation, crisis, conflict, and drama are inevitable. It is true that most parents work hard to shield their children from the drama of their divorce or separation but when the legal system is fueling a fire that can easily engulf a couple, the effort to remain calm and composed can be nearly impossible.
However, one of a mediator’s primary goals is to anticipate, defuse, and resolve conflict. The results of a good mediator’s efforts in this regard can have a positive impact affecting a child’s entire lifetime. Indeed, many adults cite the effects of their parent’s divorce as a source of their own problems and difficulties. Mediators recognize and appreciate the long term effects of divorce on children and are committed to helping parents’ divorce or separate in less traumatic ways.
A good mediator approaches each case with neutral intentions; in contrast, many Family Law lawyers approach their cases with the spirit of competition. When divorcing couples become competitors it means that there will be a winner and a loser. The implications of this are obvious-one party is going to walk away with anger and resentment that can last for years. However, a mediated divorce seeks a win-win scenario where equity is a realistic goal. As with anger and resentment, closure and resolution allows both spouses the opportunity to move on with their lives unhindered by negative aftereffects.
Summing up, more and more couples are choosing mediation because with mediation they have a chance to dissolve their relationship in a civil and appropriate manner. Finding some good out of a bad situation is not just the goal of the mediator, but of the couple and their families. Time and experience have shown that it is realistic and attainable goal.