For divorcing couples uninterested in a court battle, mediation is often suggested as a strong alternative. Oftentimes it is. Effective mediation can be cheaper than a traditional divorce and result in a peaceful transition that leaves both sides satisfied.

It’s important to remember, however, that mediation is not magic. You can’t just snap your fingers and watch everything resolve itself. So if you’re curious about mediation, here are three things to know about the process.

You are in control

This is one of the key benefits of mediation. During mediation, you and your spouse are in control – not the courts and not a judge. This gives you the freedom to reach an understanding that fits your exact situation.

It’s also important to understand the role of a mediator. While a mediator should facilitate productive conversation and help both sides come together, they are not to make any decisions for the couple.

Both people have to want it

If your goal is simply to make sure your former spouse loses, at all costs, it is one of the signs mediation probably isn’t right. You have to be invested in the process and show some flexibility. Mediation is about compromise, not victory.

If you approach mediation with that mindset, it can be quite fruitful. It may:

  • Offer privacy when compared to court proceedings
  • Protect children from conflict
  • Lead to a better long-term relationship with your partner
  • Leave you feeling satisfied, not bitter

Mediation isn’t foolproof

While mediation can be an amicable, productive way to finalize certain aspects of a divorce, it isn’t a guaranteed path to a perfect solution. As referenced above, both parties have to be willing, flexible participants.

Even with that buy-in, you can run into issues. A poor or inexperienced mediator might lead to an unfavorable outcome for one side. They may also produce an agreement that isn’t legally enforceable, resulting in further legal complications. This is why many parties choose to have the support of an attorney during mediation. If a lawyer is in the room during sessions, they can advocate on your behalf and protect your interests. Or they can provide legal support between sessions, to help you be fully prepared while ensuring any agreements are up to par.