Dissolving a marriage is oftentimes like negotiating the termination of a contract before its expiration date. Given the choice, many couples would prefer to do it amicably and as smoothly as possible. 

When severing a relationship, two spouses may wish to proceed quickly so that they may begin making plans for their new lives. A traditional divorce, however, typically requires several trips to court, time and significant expense. As described by Forbes magazine, a divorce is like filing a lawsuit against someone you once loved or perhaps still love. 

During a traditional divorce procedure, two soon-to-be-ex-spouses need to file and respond to legal paperwork. Generally, their attorneys argue for their individual outcomes regarding child support, alimony or property division. When the attorneys complete their negotiations concerning the various financial details and legal issues, a judge’s gavel finalizes the outcome. It does not, however, always need to proceed in this manner. 

When may mediation replace a traditional divorce process? 

Couples without children, property or complicated assets may avoid a lengthy divorce court procedure through mediation. Mediation generally involves open discussions between two spouses and their legal representatives regarding how they would each like to move forward. 

If a couple does have children but can come to an arrangement on their own regarding custody, visitation rights and support, mediation may serve as a well-suited replacement for a traditional divorce. Instead of allowing a family court to determine how much financial support to award, a couple can discuss and work out a payment schedule that meets their children’s needs. 

How may negotiations proceed during the mediation process? 

Unlike negotiating a release from a long-term contract, mediation allows two individuals to openly discuss terms favorable to them. Because everyone has their own needs, open dialogues between former spouses could cover several options. 

Asking questions and playing mix-and-match when dividing assets or property may provide solutions with less stress involved in the process. Before a judge’s finalization, couples could meet for as many out-of-court negotiation sessions as needed to come to an outcome that works for both individuals.