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Mediation may help the divorce process go smoother

In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party discusses issues with the couple and helps them come to mutually-agreeable settlement terms.
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    January 24, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It's an unfortunate fact that many marriages end in divorce. The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau report that there were over 76,000 divorces in Texas in 2009. Getting a divorce is usually stressful, heartbreaking and difficult for everyone involved, especially children. It can also be time-consuming and costly when contested matters are taken to court.

Fortunately, there are several options to help the divorce process go more smoothly. Involving a mediator is one of these methods. Since mediation isn't for everyone, it's important for divorcing spouses to weigh the advantages and disadvantages with their individual circumstances, and decide which method is best for them.

The benefits of a mediated divorce

In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party discusses issues with the couple and helps them come to mutually-agreeable settlement terms, says the American Bar Association. This neutral party can be either a certified mediator or a divorce attorney with mediation experience. When both parties are willing to cooperate, respectfully communicate and work with the mediator, this process can be very beneficial, says The Examiner. A mediated divorce also has the advantage of being up to 60 percent cheaper than a litigated divorce.

A mediated divorce usually takes less time to complete than a contested divorce. Neither spouse is required to have an attorney present, although it may help for a lawyer to review the divorce terms or suggest changes before anything is signed. Depending on how issues are resolved, the mediation process can be over with quickly, or can take several sessions lasting an hour or two each.

Couples preparing for a mediated divorce should gather together the same paperwork they would need in a contested divorce. This includes financial information, bank account statements, retirement plans, child care expenses and proof of assets and expenses. They should also plan in advance how they want to work out issues such as child custody, child support and property division. It's also important to keep in mind that these plans are likely to change during the mediation process.

When mediation isn't the best choice

Divorcing couples should keep in mind that mediation isn't the best choice for everyone. According to Hamline University, the following factors may call for a litigated divorce instead:
- When either spouse or children were subjected to verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse during the marriage.
- If either spouse has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse.
- If either spouse does not feel safe or respected during mediation sessions.
- When one spouse is trying to cause the other emotional pain or does not want the conflict to end.
- When one or both spouses can't be trusted to be fair or honest during mediation.

Divorce is an emotionally trying time, and it's understandable that sometimes one or both spouses can be too upset to make good decisions during mediation, and in these cases involving a judge may be the best choice.

Contacting an attorney

Whether you've decided on a mediated divorce or if you think going to court is the better choice, you'll want to get in touch with an experienced divorce attorney. An attorney can ensure that your best interests are kept in mind.

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