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How mediation helps divorcing couples in Washington

For most Vancouver couples who decide to end their marriages, the divorce process can be stressful and emotionally painful. One method for reducing the stress and emotion in a divorce is the use of divorce mediation. Mediation is a process of dispute resolution that has been used in Washington courtroom proceedings since passage of the 1984 Court Improvement Act. While not limited to divorces, mediation is especially useful in resolving the anger-laden disputes that are common in divorce proceedings.

Mediation uses the presence of a neutral third party to help the parties discuss their differences without resort to angry outbursts and hurtful insults. Mediators are trained to listen carefully to the concerns of both parties (and their attorneys, if they are present) and to help the parties find reasonable grounds for compromise.

Contrary to the expectation of many parties, the mediator does not make any legal decisions that are binding in the case. Instead, the mediator may suggest a possible compromise on family law issues such as child custody or visitation. If one party is resisting relinquishing any control over a child's welfare, the mediator may be able to help the person understand the other parent's point of view and also how a parental agreement can help the children. A mediator may also be able to suggest methods for splitting marital property in ways that are fair to both spouses. At the conclusion of mediation, the mediator will draft a written agreement for signature by both parties that embody any agreements they have reached concerning the issues in their divorce.

Anyone who is contemplating a divorce or who is already moving forward with one may wish to explore whether divorce mediation is right for them. Mediators can facilitate an agreement in the face of seeming intransigent opposition of the other party. Doing so may help divorcing couples reach a resolution to their divorce legal issues without having to go through litigation.