The hard truth is that divorce is commonplace today. Current statistics suggest that around half of all first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce — and when you look at second marriages, the number is even higher (around two thirds). This isn’t meant to paint a bleak picture of marriage, but for the many couples in the midst of divorce (or perhaps just starting the process), the reality of the situation is stark. Suddenly you’re faced with the nuts and bolts of dissolving emotional, financial, and legal bonds that may have been in place for years, or even decades.

If the marriage has produced children, this makes the situation even more critical. Who will the children live with, and how will visitations or custody-sharing arrangements be decided? What financial aspects will come into place? How will the existing assets and property be divided? And how can you be sure you’re getting the most balanced and fair result?

Divorce mediation may enter into the picture as a good way to smooth out the rough edges, engage in meaningful dialogue, and come up with a solid plan of action that leaves everybody satisfied. But people often dismiss the possibility of mediation. Isn’t it something only used for cases that are very complex financially and logistically? Is this type of professional mediation really necessary in my case?

The answer is simple: Among the millions of Americans who benefit from quality divorce mediation services across the country, many are in situations that look simple on paper. Perhaps both parties are open to finding the best way forward, and finances aren’t that complicated.

But divorce mediation is still a valuable tool for them. Why? Because people rarely think of all the details on their own. Nor do they inherently know about the financial and legal aspects that need to be addressed in order for the divorce to proceed as smoothly, fairly, and economically as possible. Mediation definitely has “softer” feel than divorce court; but it’s a detailed and productive process nonetheless. Skilled mediators are able to bring in experts where needed, just as you might see in litigation. When you consider the fact that professional mediation ends up significantly cheaper than court battles and litigation, the case for seeking this service becomes very compelling for the majority of divorcing couples.

What to look for in a mediation professional?

A background in marriage and family therapy is definitely a strong point when considering who to call for divorce mediation. Pay special attention to high-level qualifications like MSW (Masters in Social Work) and CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analysis). Years of experience in the field are also critical. Divorce mediation should only be led by a well-rounded, qualified professional who understands all aspects of divorce: Emotional, financial, and parental. Qualifications in social work and financial analysis give assurance that you’re not just dealing with a therapist, but someone who is actually expert in the financial, custody-sharing, and other logistical aspects of divorce. The ability to mediate and understand where both individuals are coming from, and how various other aspects shape and influence this particular divorce, is the keystone of a reputable divorce mediator.