Divorce proceedings are known to get messy. Usually, this happens as resentment builds and animosity toward an ex-spouse deepens. For as difficult it can feel to get along with your ex, though, doing whatever it takes to remain civil can save you a lot more headaches down the road.

The best way to make sure your tension doesn’t grow into a contentious courtroom battle is to approach the early stages of the divorce with as much fairness and rationality that you can muster.

Think of it this way: the sooner you take meaningful steps toward solving differences, the sooner you can move on. Dragging out a battle over property, child custody, or alimony basically means you’ll be tied up longer with a person you no longer get along with.

A mediator can step in and diffuse tension

One solution for coming to an agreement is bringing in a mediator at the first sign of conflict. Mediators help people parse out differences in an orderly, measured way before those differences turn into a larger issue.

While an attorney helps you with your divorce proceeding, mediator is a neutral third party who understands the legal system and can help manage individual conflicts.

They won’t make the actual decisions on your behalf or argue in court, but they can help you navigate your needs, desires and choices and come up with ideas for solutions. In some cases, your divorce attorney might even work together with you, your ex-spouse and your mediator.

Avoid the potential for long-term conflict

Legal issues in a divorce can easily become a web of complicated frustrations. Problem solving requires commitment to the effort, and a mediator is a great way to stay focused on that commitment.