Mediation is a process for resolving conflicts and reaching an agreement where decision-making remains with the parties. A neutral mediator assists parties where it comes to reaching a fair divorce settlement without incurring the high costs of litigation. In contrast to an adversarial proceeding, mediation emphasizes on cooperative problem solving and addressing the needs of all involved. Mediation can be used for all types of conflict, however it is particularly useful in the context of divorce and other family disputes.
All issues having to arranged for will be discussed under the supervision of the mediator. The mediator is impartial, or rather, partial to both sides and will always keep a sharp focus on the interests of the children and the effect said arrangements between their parents will have on them.
What are the advantages of Divorce Mediation?
In adversarial proceedings parties will typically both pay for their own lawyer. In mediation parties will pay for one professional who is dedicated to helping both parties reach a resolution. Parties will not pay for the costly drafting of extensive applications and the accompanying court appearances.
In divorce mediation you have more control over the process. Parties are given the control to determine the schedule and the issues to be discussed. Parties set their own timeframe for resolving issues, without having to wait months for the next court date or for a time when two lawyers and the court can coordinate their calendars. The process can move as quickly or as slowly as it takes for you and your partner to arrive at a resolution. It is possible to resolve your issues in a few sessions.
Parties choose the topics that they want to discuss and settle. Parties work to reach an agreement developed by the spouses themselves, not one imposed by a judge or the court system. Parties, not the court, have final say over the terms of the agreement.
Protection of children
The animosity between parents can increase significantly in an adversarial process, which can unfortunately expose children to increased conflict, verbal attacks and tension, leading to stress, confusion and even long-lasting damage. Your children may even be required to appear at court or interviewed and observed by several experts, for example the Child Care & Protection agency. A mediator can help educate parties in a neutral manner and keep the focus on the children’s needs.
Greater post-divorce stability
In contrast to the adversarial nature of the traditional litigation system, mediation seeks to improve parties’ understanding of each other and their ability to communicate. With divorce mediation, parties are more inclined to honor their obligations compared to cases where a judge has imposed a parenting plan, division of property and possible maintenance obligations. Parties who participate in mediation during the divorce process are less likely to experience post-decree conflict as new issues arise. In case however conflicts do arise in the future, parties may also return to the same mediator. Your mediator can help moderate, settle disputes and clarify or modify your agreement as time goes by.
If you have any questions about divorce mediation, please feel free to contact Marja Verdult. She is a member of the vFAS, the Dutch association for family lawyers and divorce mediators.