While divorce rates have been in a slight decline in recent years, the emotional and financial effects of divorce are rising exponentially. Battles and bickering over property, parental rights, and pride have had a devastating impact on family relations and the wallet. A fully contested divorce with custody issues can run a family $250,000. Even low-conflict litigation can cost nearly $20,000, leaving the average family to deal with a heavy financial burden in addition to their emotional tension over a terminating relationship.
Recently, however, divorce mediation has emerged as a sane, sensible, and affordable alternative to messy, expensive litigation. Divorce mediation is a collaborative dispute resolution practice in which specialized mediators facilitate communication between the parties. The process removes the control from the grip of lawyers, judges, and arbitrators and places it back into the hands of the separating couple. The mediators then assist the discussion, providing information and suggestions, to help resolve differences and develop a divorce agreement that is fair to both parties and any children.
“Over 90% of couples who come to mediation resolve their situation amicably, and in a fraction of the time involved in court litigation. Moreover, 70% of those couples also get through the process without using individual lawyers or going to court,” says attorney-mediator Diana Mercer, co-author of Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce and founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services. With almost two decades of hands-on experience working with divorcing couples, Mercer believes mediation can significantly ease the emotional toll usually associated with traditional divorce litigation. “Mediation helps couples move through both the legal and the emotional process of ending a relationship. At the end of the mediation, they have not only a solid legal agreement tailored to work for everyone involved, but they also have closure so they can move on with their lives.”
In addition to limiting the emotional burden, mediation also limits the economic costs of divorce. A low-conflict mediation can cost as little as $5000, nearly $15,000 less than a traditional divorce. Even an extremely complicated divorce can cost under $10,000 when done via mediation. This is one-eighteenth the cost of similar divorce settled through litigation. The money saved with mediation is enough to purchase a 4-bedroom, 2-bath condo with a water view in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
While divorce will never be an easy, painless process, divorce mediation is an alternative that provides couples with a less stressful and more affordable option for concluding their marriage.
Peace Talks Mediation Services is a firm dedicated to providing a constructive, forward-thinking and peaceful ending to relationships. Peace Talks founder Diana Mercer, Esq. is a pioneer in the field of divorce mediation and co-author of Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce. (Fireside, 2001).