How is Divorce Mediation Different from Traditional Divorce Litigation?

rocksThe courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.

—Sandra Day O’Connor

More often than not, our mediation clients tell us that they can’t believe more separating spouses don’t choose to mediate their divorces.  Their most popular theory — one with which we tend to agree — is that people simply don’t know what mediation is, and therefore don’t know that it is an option that is available to them.

Mediation is a voluntary, flexible, non-adversarial, and private process for resolving a divorce or other family law issue with the help of a neutral mediator who assists a couple in reaching an agreement. It is cost-effective, and often faster and more efficient than proceeding through the courts. The divorce mediator is not a judge, and cannot force anyone to do anything.  Instead, she uses her experience and training to help the parties reach an amicable resolution.

Any agreement reached must be acceptable to both parties. The spouses retain control over their divorce or other family law matter, and the process allows them to be more creative than the courts in designing an amicable solution that works for their family. The tone of mediation is one of working together to reach a solution rather than trying to get a “pound of flesh” from the other party. Issues are resolved in the privacy of Freed Marcroft’s office, not in a public courtroom.

In litigation, each party presents his or her case to the judge, and the judge decides who “wins” and who “loses.” In contrast, divorce mediation is an informal and confidential process in which the parties, with the assistance of a neutral mediator, jointly make the decisions which will impact their and their children’s lives. The mediator cannot compel either party to do anything, and any agreement reached must be mutually agreeable.  It is normally faster and less expensive than litigation, helps people learn to cooperatively solve their problems in a cost-effective manner rather than attack each other.

In our experience, for both spouses, mediation results in much greater satisfaction not only with the process but with the ultimate result than does traditional divorce litigation.

Freed Marcroft’s Meghan Freed and Kristen Marcroft have both supplemented their formal legal education with advanced training in mediation, and serve as skilled and competent mediators committed to kind and fair resolutions. They are both members of the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce.

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Written by Meghan Freed