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Divorce Mediation - Making Your Divorce Work For You
Too often divorce is seen as a win/lose situation. You turn your destinies over to your two attorneys and hope they know what they are doing. The problems is: they don't know you, your goals and aspiration or your family's needs. In this framework, you are both bound to lose even if one of you initially feels like a winner. You may end up, years later, bitter and resentful, with no idea how to communicate or co-parent your children.
The divorce mediation is designed to eliminate this win/lose atmosphere. It is a way to work out a fair, legally enforceable settlement, while keeping a divorce from becoming a bitter, endless and expensive war. In mediation, couples can safely and knowledgeably work out the terms of their divorce on their own and make their divorce an opportunity to grow, make peace and prepare for a new stage in their lives.
A neutral mediator trained to work out disagreements and reduce conflicts, helps the divorcing spouses to work out a divorce settlement covering assets and liabilities division, spousal support as well as child support and parenting issues. Contrary to what many people believe, mediation is not just for "friendly" divorces. Most divorcing couples experience extreme emotional distress but they manage to marshal the best that is in them when encouraged to do so. A trained mediator helps them overcome their anger and fear and focus on their common goals of protecting their children and avoiding emotionally and financially draining legal battles.
Mediation is not an avenue to resolve past conflicts. Although often the spouses begin to see old conflicts in a different light, a mediator, unlike a therapist, does not seek to resolve them during the mediation process. Instead, through a process of mutual negotiations, the spouses attempt to define a new life, with new options for each of them. Because the process is mutual and controlled by both spouses, one spouse cannot win at the other's expense. In mediation there are no losers: both husband and wife must come out with an outcome acceptable to both or the agreement is not finalized. As the parties start to feel greater control over the outcome, they also experience a sense of power over their life decisions. Most emerge from the negotiations with a new sense of dignity and a clearer sense of self and what the future holds for them. Most importantly, they are also able to place the past behind them and take their future into their own hands.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
The steps of typical mediation consist of a series of two hours meetings at the mediator's office. The mediator helps the spouses to identify the key issues and set the course to resolve them. The mediator also helps them to understand and express their needs in a safe, non-confrontational environment.
Next, the mediator guides them through the financial issues, making sure that each spouse has full information before making any decisions. Couples may consult with tax, real estate or appraisal experts as well as separate counsel in this process.
After a couple has reached an agreement on the issues, a legal agreement is drafted detailing the parties' decisions. The agreement can be reviewed by an attorney for each party. The agreement is then submitted to the court for approval and becomes basis of the final divorce judgment.
Mediation is voluntary˜there is never a pressure to settle. The mediation is finished only when both spouses are completely comfortable with the agreement. Participants may choose to terminate mediation at any time during the process. Also, they may opt to mediate only a part of the divorce, for example, child custody and support, leaving the property division to their respective attorneys.
Mediation leaves participants with a greater sense of control, satisfaction and empowerment . Research shows that couples who mediated their divorce have greater commitment to follow-through, greater sense of fairness and lesser chance of re-litigation.
Caught in the Middle: A Word about the Children
Unlike the traditional, adversarial divorce, mediation allows parents to talk face to face about their children and see them not as bargaining tools, but as fragile human beings with their own unique feelings and needs. Because mediation is non-adversarial, the parents, with the help of a mediator, are more open to cooperation and mutual concessions, which in turn allows them to design parenting agreements that suit their unique needs in the best possible way. A trained mediator helps the parents to keep their children's best interest in mind as they negotiate a fair agreement that provides for a parenting role for both parents.
Why Choose Mediation?
If the court refuses to award alimony at the final hearing, and if alimony is not included in the final judgment, neither spouse can return to court in the future and request alimony due to a change in circumstance. Many final divorce judgments in Connecticut award $1 a year in alimony because this preserves the right to revisit the alimony issue if circumstances change.
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