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When “Happily Ever After” Doesn’t Last Forever

February 4, 2011

Divorce has been depicted in Hollywood, both by films and by the celebrities featured in them, as endless wars between spouses. This portrayal represents how divorce proceedings can drain both individuals financially, damage relationships and cause emotional trauma for children stuck in the middle. Recently though, couples have found an alternative with the help of marital mediation.

Kindle to the Fire
Couples look to part ways for several reasons, but not all reasons are as emotionally fired up as infidelity. Perhaps the main issue is losing a job, debt problems, or unequal contribution to household income or raising children. Lack of communication can bring these problems to a point where many say, “I just can’t do this anymore.” However, what is often not considered is that the process of divorce can be much more damaging to relationships than the underlying reasons for divorce in the first place. Divorce frequently becomes a battle with the winner determined by who ends up financially better.  A competing attitude can cause unfair and, at times, unreasonable results.  This mindset also promotes an insulting and insensitive tone in legal procedures that spills into relationships with the children. Additionally, a litigated divorce often leaves the parties unable to control timing and finances. Before the parties even realize it, the proceedings have lasted for months and they are overwhelmed by increasing expenses and legal fees.

To the Rescue
Avoidance of these negative events has caused many to choose marital mediation before traditional divorce proceedings. Marital mediation brings both parties together to negotiate terms with the help of an unbiased negotiator. claims this process “promotes and facilitates discussion that allows the client to exchange differing views, ask questions, discuss difficult topics and find solutions.” Open communication allows both spouses to achieve their goals without attacking the other. The positive discussion averts painful emotions affecting children’s lives and eases into the transition of a separated family.

Choosing marital mediation over a traditional litigated divorce proceeding can allow the parties to be more in control of the process, both from a cost and time standpoint. Some law firms, like HoganWillig, offer flat rate fees so you know what to expect upfront. Likewise, since both parties are engaged in the mediation process, they are in control of how fast the process takes and have the ability to expedite what could otherwise be a long and drawn out divorce proceeding.

Furthermore, mediators who have a background in law can ensure that the agreements reached are legally enforceable, and encourage the parties to consider and address the impact of applicable laws.  In some instances, marital mediation eliminates the problems that were leading to divorce altogether. Even if problems still exist, at least both parties can be reassured that agreed-upon terms will more palatable because they were reached consensually, instead of imposed by a court. Marital mediation proves that a marriage does not always have to end in disaster.