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Divorce raises many important issues, such as asset division, child custody and parenting schedules. The traditional way of resolving these issues is going to court and having a judge make the determination.

However, a court case happens in an adversarial system that places an emphasis on winning and losing. This can result in hurt feelings and recrimination that can make co-parenting and other future interactions with your ex more difficult.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a different approach in which you and your ex cooperate with one another to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. It allows you to make your own decisions rather than relying on a judge’s decision, and it looks forward to the future rather than looking back and assigning blame.

How does mediation work?

For a mediation settlement to be legally binding, you must submit it for the court’s approval. However, prior to that point, you and your ex work with a trained mediator to reach an agreement. The result of mediation is a Memorandum of Understanding that you then present to the court.

What specific benefits does mediation offer?

Compared with divorce litigation, mediation offers several significant benefits. When divorce is a win-lose proposition, spouses can harbor residual anger and resentment long after the fact. Divorce mediation can help reduce these negative feelings through the cooperative process.

Divorce litigation can take months or even years to resolve, consuming your time and preventing you from moving on with your life. Mediation is a relatively short process that typically takes between four to eight weeks to resolve.

Divorce litigation can be expensive. Mediation costs only 25% to 40% as much by some estimates. In addition, because spouses design the agreement themselves rather than allowing the court to make a decision, the compliance rates tend to be higher for mediated divorces.

Mediation is not appropriate for every situation. If you and your spouse decide on mediation, it is important for each of you to hire an attorney who is familiar with and agreeable to the nonadversarial process.