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Mediation gives people more control of the divorce process

People who are considering divorce often feel like at least one trip to court is inevitable. While it is true that every divorcing couple in Massachusetts has to go have a divorce order approved by the court, the divorcing spouses don’t necessarily have to litigate their situation in court.

Family law judges must sign paperwork, approve custody orders and review property division matters before a couple can finalize a divorce. However, a judge does not have to assume control over the process. Those who have marital agreements or who reach their own settlements can potentially avoid the bitterness and expense of a litigated divorce.

Mediation is one of the tools people employ to move forward with an uncontested divorce. One of the reasons so many divorcing couples in Massachusetts choose divorce mediation is that they want to keep control over the terms set in their divorce decree.

How mediation empowers couples

In a traditional divorce, spouses litigate and ask a judge to divide their property and split up their parental rights and responsibilities. The judge’s perception of the marriage will influence everything from whether they grant alimony to who stays in the marital home.

That can be an awful lot of uncertainty for those trying to think about their future after the failure of a marital relationship. Couples that commit to mediation don’t have to worry about a judge setting terms that don’t work for the family. They get to set those terms themselves provided that they reach an agreement.

Mediation involves intentionally compromising on certain matters to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues for a couple’s divorce. Someone with very specific priorities and needs in their Massachusetts divorce can focus on accomplishing those goals and can make concessions in other areas so that the mediation process is fair to both parties and ends in success.

Why is control such an important factor?

Maybe a divorcing couple shares special needs children who need a very specific custody arrangement to help them adjust to the changing family situation. Perhaps one spouse started a professional practice or inherited a business during the marriage, which means that there are assets in play on which they cannot compromise. Anyone with a lot to lose in divorce may benefit from retaining control over the process as much as possible.

Even those who are mired in seemingly high-conflict situations can sometimes make mediation work with the right support and reasonable expectations. Learning about divorce mediation and other litigation alternatives can benefit those who are preparing for divorce proceedings in Massachusetts.