When a spouse files for divorce, they take on several new challenges. Living and interacting as a couple can become strained and full of anxiety as spouses wait for court dates or to hear back from a lawyer. Over the last 20 years, many couples have found that using an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to negotiate their divorce can help them emotionally manage the dissolution of their marriage and work together.

The most popular form of ADR for divorce is mediation. Mediation offers a collaborative way through negotiations on property division, alimony and even child custody.

Mediation helps build cooperative relationships

Mediation works best with a couple motivated toward a collaborative resolution. Couples in abusive relationships may need the security of courtroom litigation. Couples who can work together through mediation can:

  • Select their mediator: Mediators serve as intermediaries between spouses as they negotiate their divorce. A mediator does not rule over decision making like a judge, but gently nudges and encourages the couple to find their solutions together. Mediators emphasize listening, empathy and collaboration to design a divorce agreement that prioritizes compromise.
  • Set their schedule: Mediation does not require a courtroom or any courtroom personnel. Any neutral location can serve for negotiations, allowing couples to choose where and when they begin.
  • Save on cost: Traditional divorce can cost a couple up to $15,000 per person. Mediation is usually much less expensive as the couple saves on court fees; many lawyers charge lower rates when working within mediation, and some courts even pay the mediator’s fee.
  • Speak their mind: Mediated negotiations do not require a stenographer who keeps a full record of everything said in a courtroom. Couples with children can speak freely in mediated sessions, working through emotions and blowing off steam without fear of reprisal.
  • Enjoy a collaborative resolution: Couples who use mediation end up more satisfied with their divorce than couples than those using traditional litigation. Mediation creates a resolution centered on compromise and empathy, not one that assigns fault or delivers punishments.

Considering divorce? Discuss options with an attorney

Spouses considering filing for divorce can bring their questions to a local lawyer familiar with Kentucky’s marriage laws. An attorney can help decide if mediation is right, work with the judge on approval and recommend professional mediators.