Divorce Mediation: September 2007 Archives

September 15, 2007

What Is Divorce Mediation, and Why Should You Use It?

You've probably heard horror stories from friends and acquaintances who've had ugly divorces, right? Maybe you've also heard from some who feel better about the process because they didn't go the slash-and-burn route, but used divorce mediation instead.

Divorce mediation is a process in which a neutral third person, called a mediator, sits down for a series of meetings with a divorcing couple to help them reach an agreement about things like property, custody, and support. Most couples arrive at agreements they can live with--which means they don't have to fight it out in court. Mediation offers many advantages over court battles.

Unless you're one of those fortunate divorcing people who can negotiate directly with your spouse with a minimum of acrimony to come to an agreement about dividing property and parenting your children, divorce mediation may be a great option for you.

Generally, mediation is voluntary, although some courts will require you to go to mediation if you can't agree about child custody. Otherwise, you will use mediation only if you and your spouse both agree to it. You can go to mediation at any point in your divorce, even if you've already hired lawyers. Divorce mediation has an extremely high success rate--the vast majority of cases that go to mediation get settled there.

To find out more about mediation and how to get through a divorce amicably, try reading Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce, by Attorney-Mediator Katherine E. Stoner (Nolo).

September 13, 2007

Divorce Can Be Hard on Extended Family, Too

We all know that divorce is a stressful event for the couple involved, and for their children. But it's not only the people who are directly involved who suffer. A recent New York Times article by Mireya Navarro discusses the book Your Child's Divorce: What to Expect....What You Can Do, by Marsha Temlock, which addresses the issue of adult children's divorce, from their parent's perspective. The Times article notes that parents today are more involved in their children's lives and are themselves living longer and more active lives, and thus it's becoming more common for adult children to have parents to whom they're very much connected--and who thus are very much affected by the divorce of a child.

Parents of divorcing children may find themselves incurring debt to help their children financially, or putting on hold plans to travel, play golf, or simply enjoy their families. Or their lives are turned upside down when a son or daughter needs to move back home, or when they find themselves without recourse when their grandchildren are torn from them in custody battles.

As always, the best thing that a divorcing couple can do is try to keep their divorce as low-conflict as possible. (Divorce mediation is a great option for parents who want to minimize stress and drama.) Children do better if their parents can cooperate. And so do those children's grandparents.

To learn more about how to help your kids through the trauma of a divorce, check out Always Dad: Being a Great Father During & After Divorce, by Paul Mandelstein (Nolo), and Building a Parenting Agreement that Works: How to Put Your Kids First When Your Marriage Doesn't Last, by Mimi E. Lyster (Nolo).