January is often referred to as Divorce Month because, following the stresses and strains of a family Christmas in an unhappy household, and driven by New Year’s resolutions to make a fresh start, each new calendar year brings with it a surge in new divorce proceedings.
In many cases people tell themselves “we’ll just get through this Christmas…” but in amongst the festivities, there’s not much time to plan ahead if you’re not sure how to start getting divorced.
This leaves lots of unhappy couples heading to the family solicitor’s office in January, where the first dispute of your divorce might be over who gets represented by the solicitor you’ve used for years, and who has to find a new one to avoid any conflict of interests.
It’s little wonder then that the legal community increasingly promotes the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, of which mediation is one example.
Whereas a solicitor acts in the interests of one party, a mediator is independent and specifically aims to achieve a fast and mutually agreeable outcome that protects the welfare of both divorcing parties and any affected dependants.
Mediation is by no means a shortcut to an ‘off the peg’ outcome, but manages to reach a conclusion that both parties can agree on, based on your unique needs, by avoiding unnecessary delays due to impasses and stalemates.
It’s important from the outset to appreciate that a faster, more amicable resolution to divorce proceedings will generally cost less, leaving all concerned with a greater share of the family finances rather than facing large solicitors’ bills.
And if you wish to use a solicitor, that still does not preclude the use of a mediator as well, as your mediator can prepare progress reports to feed back to your solicitor about any agreements entered into with your former spouse.
In every respect, mediation is a faster, more cost-effective route through divorce, especially if you are unsure about the overall process and in need of a much more personal level of attention and guidance than you might normally get at a solicitor’s office.
But it goes even further than that, putting the emotional well being of all participants among the main priorities, and by reducing or even eliminating potential sources of dispute, this should ensure that a challenging time for all is less stressful than it might otherwise have been.
As 2017 gets fully underway and solicitors face a surge in divorce cases, mediators will be on hand to offer a personal service not just as an alternative to solicitors, but as the sensible first choice for many separating couples.