Have you ever heard of anyone getting married for the fun of getting divorced? Of course not, and that’s because according to the Holmes- Rahe Stress Inventory getting a divorce the second most stressful life event. In addition to causing the parties to feel stress, it also stresses the children. 1. It’ll cost you (time, money, emotional well-being) Divorce can be expensive in many ways. In fiercely disputed divorces, where anger, fear and hurt are at an all-time high, legal fees can quickly devour assets and that can’t be good for anyone except the lawyer. When financial decisions are emotionally charged they can be the worst decisions that we ever make. 2. Fighting (2 losers) vs. Negotiating (2 winners) In court, there is a winner and loser and one party comes out feeling demoralised and cheated in some way. This can only continue to promote disharmony between the parties involved and if the parties have children this will most certainly negatively impact on them. Remember that for the sake of the children the parties must have a workable relationship and where one party feels robbed by the legal system there will be continued anger. For some couples, court may be the only choice; but for the majority mediation will make the process of divorce much more respectful and much less stressful. In mediation the aim is to resolve conflicts and help families reach workable agreements, where both parties feel heard. 3. Loss of Control Let’s be honest who wants a judge dictating what is best for the family, but most importantly the children. Realistically, how can a judge decide where the children will live and how much time can be spent them without one party feeling distressed. Once the case goes to court control is lost and the lives of the children lay in the hands of the judge. Once either party starts trying to prove they are the better parent it will quickly become a berating session and end up opening up wounds that may take years to heal. Mediation addresses all parties' interests and more often than not can preserve the relationship in ways that is not possible in a win/lose decision-making process. Think about this before you decide to go to court. 4. Personal Empowerment Divorce causes many changes aside from the loss of the relationship. Divorce may also mean the loss of a home, the loss of friends, the loss of social and financial status loss of extended family and the loss of future dreams and aspirations. A separation/divorce launches into unfamiliar territory. Everything changes in an instant and this can leave one or both parties feeling lost, betrayed or confused - hence leading to lack of self-esteem and disempowered. Some may stay stuck in the past making their divorce a way of life. However, by working with a family dispute practitioner or mediator the breakup of a marriage can be viewed as an opportunity to for growth. A mediator can serve as coach and facilitator to help the parties involved reach a joint agreement on custody of the children, as well as financial and property settlement matters. This process provides equal support to each party and, unlike a court hearing, there is no blame throughout the process. When people are able to be involved in their plans for the future, rather than having them dictated by others, the chances are increased that each will be satisfied with the outcome and this is a more positive approach. It is the mediator’s role to keep the lines of communication open and respectful, teach clients healthy communication strategies, empathy and decision making processes. Ultimately, the mediator’s role is everything necessary to assist parties in reaching an amicable agreement. This may lead to the client feeling less of a victim and more empowered. 5. Faster Resolution The courts are packed full and a contested divorce could take years to settle. How can any party move on with this hanging over their heads? Emotions continue to run high and this will ultimately result in illness and continued conflict. Furthermore, when emotions are running high it will have a very negative impact on the children. Children easily pick up on the parent’s feelings and up and down moods. They can end up wondering what they did wrong and work hard at pleasing Mum or Dad. Those children are bound to end up with adult insecurities. Mediation is a lot more effective way to end a marriage. It takes less time, costs less and ensures that each party has a say in the future. Legislation Under Section 60i divorcing couples with children are required to see a family dispute resolution practitioner prior to entering court, except in the case of extreme violence between couples. The best thing any couple can do is use this time to work out ways to end the marriage with both parties’ dignity still intact.
- Written by Annemi Olivier
- Published: 28 Nov 2016