When marriages break down it can be better for everybody if the process is kept out of the court room. Mediation is an alternative to traditional family law courts and it involves sitting down with an impartial adviser to agree on the terms of the divorce.
Although mediation can make the divorce process much easier, it is not suitable for every couple. Where the split has caused too much tension, or where there has been domestic violence then going through the court offers a safer option for legally protecting the interests of the couple and the interests of any children involved.
Mediation works well if the breakdown of the marriage is a mutual agreement or if both parties are keen to determine their own fate and to work out what is best for their children.
Going through the mediation process can help couples to maintain a better relationship in the future as it gives them a framework to discuss matters that will arise. This can be hugely beneficial as children grow and their needs change and as both couples move on with their lives and start new relationships, new jobs or move to a new location. It can help to keep future decisions out of the court room.
For many people the stress of the divorce process is heightened by having to go to court and the possible spiralling legal fees. This stress can be greatly reduced by avoiding the court situation and retaining the control over decisions. However, if during the process you feel you are being pressurised into agreeing to unfavourable terms then you may have to call a halt and go through the courts.
The role of the mediator is to offer legal advice to the couple as they work through the split and to help them through more complicated financial agreements that couples don’t feel able to tackle themselves. A good family lawyer will be able to mediate for you. At Grant Stephens in Cardiff we offer a mediation service to couples who are interested. However, not all family lawyers are qualified mediators and not all mediators are qualified family lawyers.
If you and your spouse both want to work through the complexities of the divorce yourselves and if you both want to come to the best solution for the children and to protect children from the stress of the courtroom then mediation is the right way to divorce. However, if one side is being bullied, or if there has been a history of abuse or domestic violence then a traditional courtroom divorce is the safest option.