It takes two people to get married, it only takes one to get a divorce.

Divorce is bringing an end to a relationship. Sometimes, it’s a relationship filled with loving memories in the house made into a home. Bringing the baby home from the hospital. The children coming home from their first day of school. The meals around the dinner table. The quiet times, watching movies on the couch together after everyone else has gone to bed. When the relationship comes to an end, the items associated with these memories can become that much more valuable.

Divorce means realizing your time with your children will need to be divided in some fashion with the other parent. Divorce is looking at finances with a microscope in an effort to equitably divide the debts and assets. While no two divorces are alike, the process is never ideal for anyone involved.

The mention of the word divorce often evokes a variety of less than pleasant mental images. Contention. Loss. Anger. Expense. Litigation.

In traditional divorce litigation, divorce is standing up in front of a judge and asking them to decide what happens with your possessions. You’re asking the judge, a perfect stranger, to decide who becomes liable for debts and who the children spend Christmas with. You are inviting the public into very personal decisions that you and your one-time partner made together.

In litigation, hearings and trials may be scheduled with the court weeks or even months out. Decisions can be drawn out to accommodate the court’s busy schedule, and in the meantime, you and your family are left living in uncertainty. When you finally get in front of the judge, the ruling becomes public record. Your debts, your assets. These all become wide open to the public eye.

A better route to go to have more control over your life after divorce could be mediation.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution, allowing the parties a chance to come to an agreement on any relevant issues outside the courtroom. Mediation directly invites each party to become an active participant in the process of deciding “who gets what”. In fact, a growing number of counties, including St. Joseph and Elkhart, are requiring parties to attempt mediation prior to scheduling hearings on the court’s calendar, when modifying previously issued rulings.

Mediation allows the parties to convene with a neutral third-party in an attempt to make sensible, rational decisions together. It allows for more control and more privacy. Mediation has the potential to be less expensive than litigation.

And while coming to the table with an open mind is certainly helpful in attempting mediation, a complete lack of contention is not necessarily required. A skilled mediator is trained to facilitate the untangling of a variety of topics that relate to divorce; custody, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, retirement account division, and more.

For questions on mediation and divorce, contact our office at 574-277-8720