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Three misconceptions about divorce mediation

Many people going through a divorce want to try to avoid a courtroom battle. Even though you and your former partner do not want to be together, it does not mean you want to fight tooth and nail for every piece of silverware.

One alternative to court is mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party that meets with you and your former partner to encourage discussion and compromise. The mediator helps you talk through issues and ultimately reach an agreement concerning your divorce.

Since mediation is not as common as some other types of divorce resolution, the process is not as well known. If you are considering mediation, you may have some concerns about the process. Here some common misconceptions about divorce mediation.

You and your ex are not getting along well, so mediation probably will not work

Many former couples going through a divorce are not on the best terms. A mediator is a neutral third party that has been trained to resolve conflict. If you and your former partner start to argue, the mediator knows how to redirect the conversation and get you back on track to discuss the issues at hand. A mediator may also bring in a therapist, so you can talk through problems together or separately. A therapist will not try to get you to reconcile, but will work with you both to improve communication. In general, mediation is focused on helping you and your ex learn how to communicate better, so you can come together and reach an agreement.

With a mediation, you will not get your fair share of the marital property

A mediator does not represent either you or your ex. When discussing property division, a mediator has no stake in one of you getting more or less of the assets. Rather, a mediator is focused on what is fair for both of you. He or she will encourage both you and your ex to speak and make sure all requests are considered. If you are particularly concerned about legal concerns regarding property division, you could look for an attorney who can also mediate.

A mediator makes all the decisions about the divorce settlement

Unlike a judge, a mediator does not make decisions about how property will be divided or who gets primary custody of the children. The mediator encourages discussion of the issues at hand and then provides information about those issues. If there are complex financial matters at stake, he or she may bring in an accountant or tax expert. Then the mediator leaves the decision up to you and your ex. Through encouraging discussion, a mediator helps you think about the issues and come to a decision that should work for both parties. So instead of a person you have never met before, like a judge, deciding which days you will keep the kids, it will be up to you and your former partner.

Mediation can provide a good alternative to divorcing couples who want to avoid the courtroom. The process generally is shorter and less costly than resolving a divorce in court. It may also improve communication between you and your former partner, which if you have kids, could prove useful as you continue to co-parent your children.

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