Clarifying Common Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation
Over the past several years, mediation has gained popularity as a method for resolving the conflicts of divorce. Though some people see mediation as a welcome alternative to going to court, others have been slow to warm to the process. Hesitation is often based on a misunderstanding of how mediation works and what it is designed to achieve.
One of the most frequently heard misconceptions about mediation is that it can be successful only if divorcing spouses are already more or less on the same page going into the process, with just a few minor disagreements to sort through. While it is true that couples seeking an uncontested divorce may be able to find compromises in a shorter amount of time, mediation can also be greatly beneficial for couples who have little common ground.
A communication barrier is often at the heart of arguments between former spouses who find it hard to agree on even seemingly trivial matters. When couples go to mediation, they sit down with a neutral professional whose sole objective is to fashion compromises that are acceptable to both parties. Each spouse has the opportunity to fully explain their positions. Mediators are able to clarify what each party is truly saying, so that the meaning is not lost in a flood of emotion. If arguments get out of hand, the mediator can employ proven techniques to de-escalate.
Some people express a wariness with mediation because they do not want to hand over their decision-making power to an unknown third party. In reality, mediation does not require anyone to give up their autonomy. Mediators listen to both spouses and propose solutions but it is up to the spouses to decide whether or not they want to take the mediator’s suggestions. In fact, working with a mediator generally allows each spouse more control over the outcome of issues such as property division, alimony and custody than if these issues are argued before a judge.
Many people choose mediation with the thought that they will be able to avoid working with lawyers or having to deal with the court at all. However, because divorce involves legally binding agreements, it is advisable to be represented. An attorney can advise you about the potential benefits and repercussions of proposed agreements and can make sure your best interests are advanced and protected during negotiations.
Located in Melville, New York, the professional mediators of Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. work with couples on Long Island and throughout the Greater New York City area. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 1.631.683.8172 or contact us online.