To many people, the word divorce is synonymous with litigation. They imagine people fighting bitterly in court over their property or their parenting arrangements, which is enough to motivate them to put off filing. What some people don’t realize is that litigation isn’t always necessary for people to divorce.
While many couples in South Carolina do end up litigating at least part of their divorce, uncontested divorces have become the goal for many households. Spouses that settle their own property division matters and that reach a mutual agreement about custody can keep the cost of divorce lower and reduce how much conflict their family has to experience. Some parents in South Carolina use mediation as a way to resolve their disagreements for an uncontested divorce filing.
The idea of an extra step before divorce isn’t necessarily appealing, but mediation can benefit many people considering divorce. What does the mediation process typically involve?
Mediation involves discussion and compromise
Unlike court and also arbitration, which force people to approach one another in an adversarial manner, mediation prioritizes cooperation and compromise. The spouses will meet with a professional neutral mediator. Typically, they will bring their own lawyers along to ensure there is someone looking out for their best interests.
Everyone will briefly discuss the situation and what matters the family still has to resolve. Then the mediator will hear from first one spouse and then the next. The purpose of the process is to facilitate cooperation and compromise in a confidential setting.
Spouses may be able to work through their conflict in some cases by focusing on key issues and being able to find ways to meet with each other in mediation when the goal is to work together rather than to fight each other. In high-conflict scenarios, a mediator might hold separate sessions with each spouse over multiple days or may go back and forth between separate and rooms.
If mediation is successful, there will be an agreement drafted that both spouses will sign. They will then present that agreement to the courts to guide the dissolution process. If divorce mediation is not successful, couples still have the option of having a judge split their property and parenting rights. Knowing what to expect in mediation can help people determine if it might be a way to speed up or simplify their South Carolina divorce.