Key Differences Between Divorce and Mediation

Divorce can be an expensive business and if you get involved in a protracted court battle with your spouse then, at the end of the day, the only real winners, from any perspective, may be the lawyers. On the other hand, if you agree to a settlement without any legal representation, or have one imposed on you by a judge, then you might find yourself wishing that you had invested some money in good legal advice.

Mediation aims to square this circle. It does not replace legal advice, but it does aim to provide a secure with an impartial environment for two parties to talk, to be heard and to listen and, hopefully, to find a way forward on which they can both agree and which can then be translated into a formal legal agreement and, ultimately, signed off by a judge.

Divorce mediation is a specific branch of mediation, separate from family mediation  

The concept of mediation is nothing new and it has long been used in both commercial and domestic environments. Divorce mediation may have started out as a sub-niche of family mediation, but is now increasingly recognized as a distinct field with its own specific approach.

The main aim of divorce mediation is to allow the divorcing couple to reach an amicable agreement on their own terms without the expense of lawyers and without the confrontational atmosphere which can sometimes be generated when people enter a courtroom in a nervous state and with emotions running high. It will generally tackle the key sticking points in any divorce situation, including issues relating to children.

Divorce mediation can be a fairly lengthy process  

Although mediation (which focuses on solutions to problems) is very different from counselling (which focuses on reasons for behaviours) and can often achieve results in a much shorter time frame, the overall process might still be fairly lengthy, especially if children are involved.

The welfare of children is always paramount in any divorce process (at least in the eyes of the law and hopefully in the eyes of the parents) and can often be the most challenging aspect of a divorce to navigate since it can be both emotionally and practically challenging and, of course, will need to work for the children as well as the parents. Because of this, any arrangements involving children often work on the basis of an initial agreement, followed by a testing phase after which the success of the test is evaluated and, if necessary, adjustments made, after which it will be tested again until all parties (i.e. parents and children) are satisfied (or until it is agreed that the initial suggestion is not workable and a new approach is tried).

While a mediator will aim to be available to the parties for as long as they are needed, (and as long as they feel that their input is valuable), one of the underlying aims of mediation is to set up a situation where the mediator is no longer required and the parties can communicate with each other directly from a position of civility, respect and trust.

About the Author

  Midlands Dove are a team of mediation specialists based in the East Midlands, who focus on family mediation as well as workplace, civil and commercial mediation.