Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Mediation: taking the emotional charge out of divorce

Emotional turmoil is a profound part of divorce, and it often motivates partners more than the legal issues related to marital separation. As a consequence, divorcing couples often seek emotional justice from the court. Unfortunately, courts must concern themselves with legal remedies rather than emotions, which often results in divorcing couples ending up feeling deprived and cheated because the emotional distress remains unresolved.

In fact, emotional conflicts are usually a principal reason why couples seek to end marriages. No-fault divorce proceedings and outcomes rarely resolve these conflicts. Fortunately, there is one alternative to litigation-divorce mediation-that can address and recognize the pent-up emotions of divorcing couples.

Mediation requires a dialogue between partners that is moderated by an impartial mediator who neither dictates legal terms nor forces decisions. Instead, couples are encouraged to make their own decisions and agreements. This allows them to air feelings, which can help them reach mutually beneficial solutions to their disputes while also rebuilding or at least preventing further erosion of their friendship in the process.

With emotional stress at least decreased, if not defused, both parties can concentrate on the financial challenges of their split and address more pressing concerns such as child custody, child support and spousal support.

Furthermore, mediation can save divorcing couples considerable money by keeping legal costs down. Compared to litigation, couples who undergo mediation do not have to attend numerous court hearings or pay substantial legal fees that accumulate during the prolonged litigation of their divorce cases.

Even if they consult with a mediator, a divorcing couple should still consult a lawyer if there are divorce issues that warrant a fair legal settlement. Fortunately for such cases, consulting a lawyer for advice about mediation costs much less than retaining a lawyer to litigate an entire court-determined divorce case. The money saved may be able to help both parties establish new lives after their marriage ends.

Source: Huffington Post, "Do Feelings Matter in Mediation?," Mark Baer, July 17, 2013

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