Mediation offers couples an alternative to traditional court litigation, which may be advantageous for some people.
Couples have several options when they wish to file for divorce in Pennsylvania. While some people are able to negotiate the matters of their divorce amicably without any legal help, others must go through court litigation. There is an alternative to litigation, however, that may be ideal for couples who wish to create the terms of their divorce settlement with minimal legal help. People can use mediation as a way to negotiate crucial matters, such as property division, child custody, parenting schedules and alimony, in a neutral and non-confrontational setting.
What is mediation?
Mediation sessions occur in a laid-back atmosphere under the direction of a third-party mediator. The mediator is available to direct the negotiations process and to ensure all topics are covered. Although the mediator can answer legal questions, he or she cannot give any personalized legal advice to either party. That is why some people choose to have their attorney present at the mediation session as well, even though a lawyer is not required to be there.
A look at the benefits
According to the American Bar Association, creating a divorce settlement through mediation offers several advantages when compared to court litigation. These include the following:
•· Speed: The negotiations process may only take one or two sessions.
•· Flexibility: Couples are often able to schedule the mediation sessions on their own time rather than have to wait for a lengthy court date.
•· Affordable: Mediation is usually less expensive than going through litigation, as there are usually no court costs involved.
•· Less stressful: Mediation is more casual, making the process less stressful for many people.
In addition to these benefits, studies show that couples who undergo mediation are able to maintain a better relationship post-divorce than they would if they had gone through an emotional court battle. This may be best for parents or business partners who must continue a relationship once the divorce is finalized.
Things to think about
Mediation is not for everyone. Couples who are unable to communicate with one another may not be able to negotiate during the mediation session. In order for mediation to work properly, each party must be willing to compromise, and should come to the session ready to resolve the terms of the divorce.
Bring an advocate to the session
Some people may feel more at ease when they have their personal attorney present with them at the mediation session. An attorney may be helpful by looking out for your best interests during the negotiations process. You want to make sure you get everything you're entitled to in the divorce settlement, and an attorney may assist you through the process.