It’s a common misconception that litigation is the only way to dissolve a marriage. Most divorcing couples find that mediation is the best approach, as it allows them to maintain control over the process while avoiding the tension that’s typically associated with a traditional courtroom setting.

Through mediation, you’ll work to reach the following goals:

  • Avoid the high cost of litigation
  • Minimize bad feelings toward one another
  • Create an equitable divorce agreement

Depending on your circumstances, you may have other goals on your mind. For example, if you have children with the individual you’re divorcing, you’ll want to create a parenting plan and visitation schedule.

Here’s what you can expect with respect to the mediation process:

  • First meeting with your mediator: This is the appropriate time for both individuals to discuss their concerns and what they want to resolve in divorce. Don’t hide anything during this conversation.
  • Follow-up meetings: Once you meet with the mediator and have a clear understanding of what’s to come, you’ll partake in mediation sessions during which you negotiate on matters such as property and debt division, child support, child custody and spousal support.
  • The agreement: It’s your hope that you reach an agreement on all your differences sooner rather than later. Upon doing so, the mediator will draft a final agreement for your approval. If both of you agree that it looks good, it’s filed with the family law court for final approval.

The question of how long it takes is one that you’re sure to have before starting mediation. This depends on many factors, including the complexity of your case and the willingness of both individuals to cooperate, negotiate in good faith and compromise.

For some people, a couple of mediation sessions are enough to find common ground. Others, however, have to stick with the process much longer.

As you inch toward divorce mediation, prepare for the process to the best of your ability. Even though there will be twists and turns, proper preparation puts you in position to succeed. With the ability to minimize tension and save time and money, mediation deserves your full attention before you consider litigation.