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Can you and your spouse handle divorce mediation?

Many Connecticut couples who divorce want the process to be as quick, stress-free and inexpensive as possible, for their own sake as well as for their children. There are alternatives to court-based divorce such as mediation.

In mediation, the divorcing parties don't have their own family law attorneys representing them. They work out their agreements with the help of a neutral mediator. Mediators are trained to do just that -- mediate. It's not their job to determine who is right or wrong on a particular issue or even to give advice. Mediation allows couples the most control over the terms of their divorce because they are the ones who work everything out without their attorneys or judges playing a role.

Many divorcing couples believe that they have a mature and amicable enough relationship to use divorce mediation. However, too often they find out once they get into it that it's not for them.

Mediation isn't just a matter of sitting in a room with your spouse and determining who gets what. It requires working together to reach agreements regarding child custody, support and asset and property division that both people can live with without attorneys to fight for them. For many couples, emotions are simply still too raw to be able to do this work.

Honesty and trust are key in divorce mediation. This is true not just regarding full disclosure of assets and debts, but with what you want out of the divorce. You have to speak up for yourself as well as listen and work to understand your spouse's feelings, wishes and needs. For many divorcing couples, trust may have been damaged irreparably by an affair or other actions. Communication has likely been an issue as well. Therefore, the honest communication required for a successful mediation may be impossible.

This isn't to say that you and your spouse shouldn't consider divorce mediation. However, it's important to know what's involved and to be honest with yourselves and each other about whether the two of you can make the process work.

Source: Huffington Post, "Five Reasons Why Divorce Mediation Isn't More Popular," Betsy Ross, LICSW CGP, accessed Nov. 27, 2015

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