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Two people don't enter marriage with the intention of getting divorced. But it happens, and it is painful. And, if you have children, you will continue to be in this difficult relationship with your ex-partner, co-parenting together, for the rest of your life.

Caring for your child’s interests is one the best reasons to consider mediating your divorce. Research shows that children are not damaged emotionally by divorce per se. Neither the parents’ split nor the shuttling between two households is detrimental.

However, what does harm children’s well-being is when divorcing parents argue in front of their children, speak negatively about the other, or put the child in the position of having to take sides. In mediation, you can mitigate the effects of a bitter divorce by committing to healthy collaboration and set the stage for communicating about the myriad, difficult parenting issues that will come up for the rest of your child’s life.

Another great reason to mediate your divorce is to reduce costs. Divorce litigation is an extraordinarily expensive way to end a marriage – sometimes depleting the parties’ life savings in professional fees. And the irony is that the overwhelming majority of divorces end up settling before going to trial anyway, but not before you have paid months and months of attorney’s fees often exceeding tens of thousands of dollars per spouse.

Mediation can also reduce your own mental anguish during this difficult period. Divorce litigation is a very painful and damaging experience because litigation strategy often entails demonizing (and being demonized by) your ex-partner.

A litigated divorce can drag on for months or years, destroys relationships, humiliates both partners, and rarely produces a settlement that either party thinks fair. Instead of ceding authority to your attorney, in the mediation process you can maintain control over both the tenor and the content of your marriage’s dissolution.

During the mediation process, you will be guided through the issues that need to be resolved when a couple divorce. You will equitably divide up the marriage’s assets and debts, determine the children’s custody schedule, and arrange for child and spousal support. In the end, you will agree on and craft a formal marital settlement agreement which will be filed with the court.

Estate Planning

The nest egg. A will or trust impacts beneficiaries profoundly. In addition to the economic ramifications, the symbolic value of a gift’s amount can trigger deep emotional responses. The ground becomes fertile for hurt feelings towards parents as well as disagreement and mistrust between siblings. Depending upon the nature of the family dynamics, this event can lead to an explosive situation which can consume money and tear at family bonds.

Using a mediator can save litigation costs and preserve family harmony. During estate planning, a mediator can help planners and their clients clarify and resolve conflicting issues and raise difficult issues in each other’s presence so that the final instrument reflects the settlors’ or testators’ joint interests.

The terms can also be disclosed to the beneficiaries, so that the settlors can clarify to their children the assumptions on which the trust or will was drafted. The mediator can then preemptively root out any of the children’s underlying emotional concerns (which, if remain hidden and unaddressed, can explode later on) and help resolve any legal or financial issues. This process can ward off the financial and emotional costs of future litigation.

Will Contests

Dividing the pie pieces evenly is often the last thing family members consider when a loved one is sick or has recently died. But the sensitive issues and family dynamics that arise during a will contest are better settled within the framework of mediation than through adversarial litigation. Poor communication among siblings, and misconceptions as to parents’ intent, can cause family members to become antagonists and tear at their family fabric. But the litigation process exacts a heavy financial cost and damages lifelong, family relationships.

Rather than engage in this adversarial struggle, mediate the conflict. The purpose of mediation is to get each family member to express the interests, hopes, needs, and concerns with regard to the will, and hear the same from their family members. This cooperative process can lead to understanding and making an agreement that everyone can live with. Not only will this save money, but it can lead to mending relationships, restoring trust, and mourning together the grief and loss which precipitated the conflict.

Family Business Disputes

Not all business conflicts can be settled over the proverbial water cooler.

Working together as a family can be very stressful. It is a delicate balancing act in behaving professionally while remaining rooted in a pre-established, family dynamic. Professional expectations intertwine with emotional needs, which open and shut floodgates that would not exist in the average workplace. When contentious issues arise, they can be explosive and challenge even the strongest family ties.

The goal of family business mediation is twofold: to find solutions to the problem hindering business performance and to honor and preserve the family bond. Disentangling the two spheres, looking at and addressing each separately, and figuring out what can be accomplished within the workplace and what needs to be mended at home is essential for the family business to continue to function productively.

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