A recent segment on "Good Morning America" described the experiences of some drivers who had blindly followed their computer navigation systems. One man drove from a gravel road into a thick, muddy area. The GPS had ignored the nine-mile stretch of water between an island and the main land mass. The man was forced to abandon his car as the tide rolled in.
Although this may not seem to have much relevance to divorce, experts say that many people allow others to guide them through their own divorce proceedings instead of taking control themselves. Mediation is an increasingly popular option that can allow both members of a couple to feel more empowered and satisfied with divorce proceedings. Instead of blindly following the GPS, each party can collaborate to find a path that won't sink both travelers.
Couples who are considering divorce are urged to follow four simple steps to determine whether mediation is the right decision for them. First, both people must gain an understanding of what mediation actually does. Many mediation firms offer educational opportunities to guide couples through the divorce process, including information about serving legal documents, dividing financial assets and hammering out custody agreements or child support payments. By using a mediation firm, the couple can guarantee that they never have to set foot in a courtroom.
Next, couples should consider what their motive is during the divorce. Couples who want to reach a civil, polite agreement without the emotional trials of courtroom combat are perfectly suited for mediation. If, however, one member of the couple wants to seek revenge on the other, a courtroom situation is more appropriate. It is important to weigh the emotional costs that may accompany such an action, though. Many people feel better in the short-term, but lasting mental strain can result from aggressive legal action against an ex-spouse.
In addition, couples should use common sense when determining the provisions of their divorce agreement. Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all procedure and mediation can help accommodate individual needs throughout this difficult process. Couples should not immediately assume that their spouse will oppose mediation. Talking to the person about mediation is always a good idea.
Finally, all parties should be committed to maintaining privacy throughout the mediation process. Mediation can protect people who may not want public inquiries into their personal lives, shielding divorce information from the prying eyes of employers or curious reporters. Conversely, divorce hearings in court become a matter of public record.
Professionals say that using the old-fashioned divorce methods often takes a much larger emotional and financial toll than the refined methods used in mediation. Couples who are considering divorce should investigate mediation as an option to protect their reputations and reduce stress during the process.
Source: Huffington Post, "4 ways to navigate divorce with GPS," Nancy Fagan, March 30, 2012