Massachusetts couples have a few options when it comes to deciding how to proceed with the divorce. For some couples, the best option is a more traditional divorce where both parties have their lawyers go head-to-head in a divorce courtroom. For other couples, mediation can help them avoid the courtroom altogether. Before choosing which option is best for you, there are a few things you need to consider.
The mediation process generally requires both spouses to meet with a mediator, an impartial third person, who will help them come to a mutual agreement regarding the issues of their divorce, including property/asset division, child custody arrangements, child support, and spousal support. Both spouses may benefit from having their own family law attorneys present during the mediation to help navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected. Once the parties have come to an agreement, the court will review the agreement and likely approve it, therefore finalizing the divorce.
Generally, couples that choose mediation are able to work together towards the common goal of a fair settlement. The spouses are not focused on winning, but rather resolving conflicts, no matter how long it takes, and compromising for the greater good of the family. However, if you and your spouse can barely stand the sight of each other, it can be hard to sit down across the table from them to negotiate the terms of your divorce. In such cases, it may be best to go for a more traditional divorce.
If one or both spouses are abusing drugs or alcohol, or there is a history of domestic violence between the couple, things may be too contentious to have a successful mediation. However, if both parties are willing to work together, the mediator and their personal attorneys can help make the process easier, even with these issues.
Another issue that causes extra tension during a divorce is the determination of child custody. Ideally, parents will be able to agree on a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the child, but in some cases, parents find themselves disagreeing over who should be the primary custodian or how much visitation the other parent should get. If parents are unable to compromise, mediation may not work to finalize a parenting plan.
Before deciding whether mediation is best for your divorce, you can discuss the specifics of your situation with an experienced family law attorney.