What does the divorce mediator add to the mix? At Westfield Mediation, LLC, I often get questions from divorcing couples asking me whether they need to bother with divorce mediation if they already agree on most major issues. In these conversations, I explain that the divorce process has several steps, and the agreement that you create is going to have a significant impact on your financial and emotional relationship into the future, so it is important to do it right.
A good divorce mediator adds value to the process and makes it easier, less stressful and more manageable. Sometimes that comes just from a having a third party in the room to defuse any tension. Moreover, for the nuts and bolts of the agreement, the divorce mediator brings knowledge and experience to the process.
First, the divorce mediator asks questions that you may not have considered. For example, maybe you came up with a parenting plan, but is it complete and does it cover all the important issues? In addition, your plan may work for now, but is it comprehensive and flexible enough to take you through the years? Similarly, is your financial plan workable? Does it fairly consider the value of retirement assets as compared to more liquid assets like bank accounts? Do you have a reasonable plan for the house?
Secondly, are you sure you both agree on all issues and that you know what you are legally entitled to? Sometimes, divorcing couples agree in the abstract, but divorce mediation helps hammer out the details.
Finally, even if you agree on a plan, are you confident that you can write up an agreement that accurately reflects your plan? Whatever you file with the court is the enforceable agreement, so it is critically important that it is correct.
So, yes, there are good reasons to go to divorce mediation, and even agreeable divorcing couples can benefit from the process.