If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you may dread having to appear in court where personal matters become public and complicated situations often become heated disagreements.

Mediation is an alternative that has gained steadily in popularity, even among couples who have significant assets and face a complex divorce.

The way it works

Divorce mediation is a private process that takes place outside court in more informal surroundings. The goal is for you and your spouse to create a divorce agreement satisfactory to you both. To this end, you will meet with a trained mediator who offers brainstorming guidance, keeps deliberations civil and on track, helps to resolve issues that arise and provides access to any legal information that you may need. Once you and your soon-to-be-ex reach agreement, you can file the paperwork with the court and the judge will sign off on it, making the divorce official.

The main benefits

Divorce is a highly emotional event, but mediation can reduce the stress, anger and uncertainty you may feel. It is also less expensive than litigation and takes much less time. Wealth and property are no problem; no divorce is too complicated for mediation. Because couples who choose this process take control of their own agreement, they rarely return to court to petition for changes once the divorce is final. You and your spouse may have spent years, perhaps decades, as a team. If you can continue to work together a little longer, mediation may prove to be the perfect option for your split.

The added bonus

Divorcing parents find that mediation is much less stressful for their children than a lengthy and often contentious court procedure. Because they learn to communicate effectively during the mediation process, the parties employ that ability as they continue working together as co-parents. There may be a different sort of family unit going forward, but mediation helps to form a starting point from which to create respectful, workable relationships.