“Divorce with Dignity”
Submitted by Karen P. Sampson, Esquire
Horror stories about nasty divorce battles in court abound even from couples who appeared to epitomize a healthy marriage. Mudslinging back and forth, mounting legal fees, and communication breakdowns are sadly some of the symptoms of a divorce that has gotten out of control.
But divorcing couples who want, in good faith to communicate directly with each other in an effort to resolve divorce issues more amicably, Divorce Mediation may be worth pursuing.
Divorce Mediation allows divorcing couples an opportunity to resolve issues outside the Court system. It is based on assumptions of good faith, trust and full disclosure. It provides an environment where divorce issues can be openly discussed and resolved in a non-litigious manner. It often includes thinking, “outside the box” in order to find creative, acceptable solutions.
Divorce Mediation provides for a Mediator, an impartial third party, to meet with the divorcing couple, usually in a series of sessions where divorce issues are discussed. This mediator screens the husband and wife to determine the process is a suitable option, taking into account the couple’s history and situation.
Typically, before the first mediation session, the Mediator and couple sign a Mediation Agreement, which lays out the rules and explains the mediation process.
During the mediation sessions the Mediator’s assists in identifying the divorce issues, and promotes healthy discussion. The Mediator encourages the couple to communicate their needs and interests with each other.
The couple decides together how to best resolve the divorce issues. Divorce mediation sessions are scheduled at the convenience and availability of the couple and the mediator. Mediation, if successful can be a more private process for the couple.
There is no crystal ball, however. A Mediator cannot predict how many sessions will be needed for the couple to resolve their divorce issues or how long the process will take. There is also no guarantee mediation will work to resolve the couples’ issues.
When the couple is able to resolve their divorce issues through the mediation process, the Mediator typically prepares a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is a summary of the couple’s agreement.
The couple does not sign the MOU and it is not binding on the couple. Typically each spouse takes the MOU to his or her individual attorney to continue with the legal divorce process which often includes, among other things, reviewing the terms of the MOU.
If divorce is inevitable, the ability to resolve issues outside the court using Divorce Mediation can help preserve family relationships and assist in creatively finding acceptable solutions for all.
Karen P. Sampson, Esquire is an attorney in Moorestown, New Jersey whose practice includes Divorce Mediation. She is an advocate of Divorce Mediation and is committed to handling divorces in a respectful, dignified manner, helping families move forward with their lives. Ms. Sampson is a member of the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators. She can be reached by phone at 856.439.0068 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website can be viewed at http://www.karenpsampson.com/.