It is fairly well accepted that divorce mediation is a far better way to handle the details of unwinding a marriage than litigation. If there are any assets and any kids, the parties typically know the details of both, and with proper guidance are capable of figuring out how best to proceed so that the kids and assets are dealt with fairly and everyone can move on to leading happy and productive lives.
Divorce mediation deals with difficult and painful issues, but couples are remarkably capable of addressing their personal and family needs as the mediation progresses. Sometimes those needs first become apparent during the mediation. This can mean challenging moments, but at least the discussions take place in a safe setting with a third person present who often facilitates discussions that would otherwise be difficult to have.
Whether a couple ends a divorce mediation with a signed agreement or not – and most do – they almost always know better what they need and how they want to proceed after their breakup. They know their finances better, know better how they can handle their children, and an ex with whom things have not worked out.
I always urge couples to have separate attorneys review any agreement before it is signed. A divorce is a life altering event and it’s important to have an independent attorney, whose interests are solely yours, review an agreement before you sign it. This is far, far less costly and more effective than litigating what in the end, a couple will have to decide anyway. Even if a mediation does not result in an agreement, and the process breaks down – again, very much the exception – the couple is typically far better off than if they had just gone to lawyers and started duking it out.