Sometimes during divorce proceedings, a judge may rule that certain disagreements go to mediation, while they focus on more challenging issues where the two parties are less inclined to agree. A type of alternative dispute resolution, mediation is generally a cheaper and faster way for two parties to settle a dispute outside of court. Mediation also tends to produce agreements that both parties find easier to uphold because they came up with their own solution.
Massachusetts residents looking to begin divorce proceedings may find it surprising that a judge would want to use this approach, but mediation can be useful in many different situations.
When mediation can be useful
A judge may ask couples to mediate parts of their divorce for the following reasons:
- A divorcing couple communicates well: If a couple can graciously communicate their desires and needs to each other, a judge may determine they are well-suited for mediation. Having legal counsel guide these proceedings and draw up the resulting paperwork generally produces fast, and satisfactory, results.
- To free up the courtroom calendar: Sometimes a court’s schedule can become overly packed. Judges may rule that many civil cases, including divorce, go to mediation to free up the court’s resources for cases with severe crimes or higher stakes.
- Focus on the children: Judges often prioritize the wellbeing of any children involved in a divorce. They may decide that it is necessary to determine child custody or visitation in the courtroom with a litigated resolution while things like asset division get resolved in mediation.
- A request for mediation: If a couple asks to use mediation for any part of their divorce proceedings, a judge is likely to grant it. Mediation works best when disputing parties are open and even enthusiastic about finding common ground.
An easier path forward
Divorce is often difficult for families, so judges will call for mediation when it will likely make things easier. With a mutually-agreed-upon mediator guiding the discussions and promoting understanding on several topics, divorcing parties can find it easier to agree. Those considering divorce should reach out to a local family lawyer to discuss what parts of their divorce may benefit from mediation.