Divorce is a fact of life for millions of Americans. Whether you live in New Jersey or another state, it’s obvious that people are going through divorce all the time. Some of your friends have probably been through it. You hear about it on TV, in the news, in your favorite TV shows and movies. Your read about it when you’re standing in line at the supermarket.

But when it’s your divorce, the feeling is completely different. Suddenly it’s no longer a statistic. It’s a real and often raw experience. For most people it brings a whole spectrum of emotions, including sadness, relief, anger and anxiety about the future. Not knowing how the necessary agreements are going to be reached — especially those involving child custody and finances — weighs heavily on most people. Every situation different, and has its own pressure points.

You’re probably also heard the term ‘divorce mediation’ — and until now, you might not have considered what it actually entails. When divorce is a reality and the situation is tough, it’s worth knowing a bit more about divorce mediation and how it may be able to help you (and your family) through this difficult situation.

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation a resolution technique that takes place out of court, and does not involve both sides meeting with their own lawyers. This type of mediation is usually undertaken by someone with multi-dimensional credentials. The CFDA (Certified Financial Divorce Analyst) can be combined with accreditations in social work and/or therapy to provide a rich background in all of the important aspects of divorce.

A skilled divorce mediator will engage the divorcing parties together in a process that is both structured and constructive, designed to diffuse tension and encourage cooperation. But the tensions of divorce are real, and the mediation process should recognize this. When both sides are encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns in a constructive way, in order to achieve a more sensible long-term outcome, many of the key financial and parenting agreements necessary to divorce can be reached in a more amicable way.

How does it work?

Divorce mediation isn’t a legal process. Rather, it’s a preliminary process designed to put both parties in a better position before entering into the legal process. The goal is to put key agreements in place in the most amicable way possible. If children are involved, it prepares both parents for the realities of co-parenting, and gives them a chance to express concerns and work toward resolutions ahead of time, thus avoiding complicated and legal processes later on.

Divorce mediation is more effective when both parties are in a reasonable state of mind, and both feel ready and willing to negotiate the best possible divorce settlement. This only needs to be pointed out because in some cases, only one party wants to divorce while another prefers to try and save the marriage. On the other hand, when both parties have accepted that divorce is inevitable, mediation is a very effective tool.

No prolonged battle

Divorce is almost always painful in some respect, and this is usually true for both parties. There are bound to be disagreements, especially if one or both parents is taking an aggressive stance on finances and/or child custody. But these disagreements don’t have to be bitter, and they don’t have to result in a prolonged battle.