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Mediation can be ideal for divorcing spouses

No one will ever try to tell you that divorce is a fun experience, but it's a given that some are less painful than others. If you and your soon-to-be former spouse are relatively civil with one another, it might be possible to approach the issues through mediation.

Mediation is sometimes used as an alternative to court by couples who wish to keep their personal and financial issues from becoming a matter of public record. While it is possible to petition to have court records sealed, most are considered a matter of public record and accessible to anyone with the time or inclination to dig through them.

Some jurisdictions refer to the mediation process as alternative dispute resolution. There are certain hallmarks of a pending divorce that make ADR a good fit, and they include:

-- A high level of civility and mutual respect between the parties. Spouses who cannot be in one another's presence without sniping and hurling accusations are simply not good candidates for mediation.

-- Desire of both parties to spare any minor children the stress of a courtroom battle. Court appearances are stressful, and even young children can pick up on a parent's apprehension and become nervous. Older children may be asked to speak to a judge about their preferences, or even to offer testimony, and mediation relieves them from this burden.

-- No history of abuse or incidents of domestic violence between the parties.

It's important to note that mediation can be used to resolve some issues and allow others to still be litigated by the courts. Divorcing parents may choose to mediate their custody arrangements and yet still litigate a complex distribution of marital assets.

If you feel that at least some aspects of your divorce could be handled through mediation, ask your family law attorney to pursue this legal option.

Source: American Bar Association, "Benefits of Mediation in Divorce Cases," Holly Clemente, accessed Nov. 05, 2015

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