Navigating family issues is a difficult experience at the best of times. Unfortunately, a divorce rarely ever represents the best of times. In general, divorce is more prone to highlight and exacerbate existing issues in the relationship, bring new ones to light, and make it harder than ever to overcome said issues.

While divorce is often contentious, that doesn’t mean that it has to be as difficult as we make it out to be. One of the best resources available to those getting divorced is to work with an attorney as a mediator. The mediation process can help individuals move past the contentious issues to focus on the task at hand, the divorce itself.

To understand why we’re going to be diving deep into this topic. We’ll start by discussing contentious divorces and then move into how mediation itself works. From there, we’ll examine why mediation can be an effective tool for those who are dealing with a contentious divorce.

What Is a Contentious Divorce?

A contentious divorce is not any one particular type of divorce. In some parts of the world, “contentious divorce” refers to a divorce in which one party did not know the divorce was coming. However, the term is more often used to mean a divorce wherein the divorcing couple is at odds with each other.

This could mean that neither party wants to work with the other to deal with any of the important issues of divorce, such as custody or the division of marital property. This often happens when a couple grows sick and tired of each other.

But another form of contentious divorce could be more specific. For example, the divorcing couple both wants to work together to come to an agreement. But there are just one or two important issues that they cannot agree on to save their lives. The desire is to move things forward, but a small number of issues causes disputes that just can’t be moved beyond.

Often, however, the contentious-nature of divorce arises from how the relationship was brought to a close. A lot of frustration, disappointment, hurt, anger, and the like are brought to the surface when a marriage fails and this can make it difficult for an individual to approach any conversation about divorce topics with a clear head. Even though they simply want to move on and start the next chapter of their life, the emotional pain they feel causes them to lash out and this in turn prolongs the divorce proceedings.

One way to deal with these issues is by bringing in another party through mediation.

How Does Mediation Work?

Divorce mediation is a process by which individuals work with a trained mediator who serves as a neutral third-party. The mediator’s goal is to engage the couple in a structured discussion to work through divorce issues.

Divorce mediation tends to be less expensive, and less stressful, than a divorce trial. It also allows the individuals involved to exercise more control over the outcome of the divorce, whereas a divorce trial would leave the final outcome in the hands of a judge. A judge will follow certain guidelines to inform their decision, but there is no guarantee that you will be a fan of the final outcome. With mediation, you can be.

Divorce mediation may be hard to begin with a contentious divorce. If one side is dedicated to fighting against the other, no matter what, then getting them to agree to mediation may be impossible. But should the contentious nature of your divorce be due to something more specific, such as a disagreement over certain terms and outcomes, then divorce mediation may be more effective because both parties want to bring the proceedings to a close already.

Basically, when you and your spouse agree to use mediation to resolve issues then you will have an initial meeting with the mediation. This first meeting is for both parties to lay out what they hope to achieve and what they expect from the process. The idea isn’t to solve things right away but to give the mediator a chance to assess the divide between the divorcing couple.

From there, meetings proceed as scheduled, and both parties continue to meet with the mediator until everything has been sorted out. It is possible for mediation to break down, thus requiring the couple to move forward with a divorce trial, but mediation often reduces the heat with which either party approaches discussions and this facilitates a more productive working environment to overcome the issues and allow both parties to move forward with their lives.

Why Is Mediation Effective For a Contentious Divorce?

Mediation can be good for a contentious divorce for several reasons, including:

  • It’s less expensive than dragging out the divorce process, so individuals may decide to go along with it to save money
  • It offers the divorcing couple more control over the outcome of the divorce, so it can result in more fair outcomes
  • A neutral third party often takes the heat out of arguments, making it less likely for explosive fights to take place; individuals are less likely to want to fight and be rude when they know they’re doing so in front of a dispassionate professional

When Should I Work With a Mediator?

If you are considering divorce, then you may want to start reaching out to an attorney to help represent your interests immediately. But it might not always be necessary to seek out a mediator. In some rare cases, a divorcing couple is able to work better together during a divorce than they ever did during their marriage.

But most divorces bring up some disagreements and contention. If you are faced with a contentious divorce process, a mediator may be the best ally you could have on your side. Reach out to an experienced divorce mediator today to learn more about how they can help you.