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Can mediation help spouses entangled in a contentious divorce?


Colorado couples going through a contentious divorce may think that there is no way that mediation will work for them. They may think that the only choice is to go through a courtroom show-down. However, litigation can be costly, both financially and emotionally, and it can drag a divorce on for months or even years. Therefore, even couples whose relationship has deteriorated may want to take a second look at divorce mediation.

It's understandable that some divorcing couples cannot even be in the same room together without fighting. But, this doesn't mean an agreement can't eventually be reached. Not only is a mediator skilled in facilitating conversations, but the parties can stay in separate rooms the entire time and do not have to communicate directly with each other -- the mediator can serve as the go-between. In addition, the parties can still retain their own attorneys even if they decide to mediate, and, in fact, this can be a good way to ensure that not only are their interests represented, but that the final agreement is fair.

Also, when it comes to property division, financial professionals can be consulted during mediation, just as they would if the parties litigated their divorce. They can help couples ascertain their net worth, so there is a realistic starting point when it comes to property division. Moreover, as mediation involves a certain amount of communication and cooperation, when it comes to child custody arrangements, it can set the groundwork for a future workable relationship between the parties. This is often in the best interests of the child as well.

Couples may think that it would be too difficult to choose a mediator. However, good mediators will have a comprehensive understanding of their state's divorce laws, and many are former lawyers or have a graduate degree in a mental health profession. Oftentimes, they spend 60 hours or more being trained as a mediator and follow model standards for mediation. Mediators aren't going to try to save a couple's marriage, they just help couples find a way to end it on a fair and practical note.

While mediation isn't always appropriate (for example, when domestic abuse is a factor), it is often preferable to a potentially lengthy and costly litigated divorce. In the end, couples who have questions about divorce mediation can consult with their attorneys to determine if mediation is the right choice for them.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Eight Myths of Divorce Mediation," Joanne Naiman, March 4, 2011

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