Divorcing couples face uncertainty as they attempt to reach decisions on how to move forward with their lives. Mediation creates an opportunity to address that uncertainty through dialogue that is facilitated by a neutral mediator.
A successful mediation outcome establishes a plan that, by definition, provides both spouses with greater certainty about their futures. Important decisions are made about how to divide and distribute the assets and debts of the marriage.
Planning for the Present
There are aspects of the mediated plan that relate to parenting arrangements and financial support. These decisions affect the immediate circumstance of the family and increase certainty and understanding. But life, by its very nature, involves change—different jobs (or unemployment), fluctuations in income, altered schedules, and new residences, to name a few. All these can require adjustments to an established plan.
Modifying the Plan
Laws pertaining to parenting arrangements and financial support include provisions for modifications to parenting plans, child support and spousal maintenance. After a divorce settlement, there is generally a requirement that the person who is requesting a change must apply to the court and demonstrate that the change is significant enough to warrant a court review.
The mediation process allows for more flexibility and foresight to anticipate change and plan specifically for how future circumstances may affect current arrangements established by the divorcing couple.
Fortunately, the mediation process allows for more flexibility and foresight to anticipate change and plan specifically for how future circumstances may affect current arrangements established by the divorcing couple. Anticipating future changes that may affect child support or maintenance payments, for example, many clients will develop a specific formula for determining how they will modify the amounts being paid. This allows for a clear path forward and clarity amidst unpredictability, avoiding the need for future court action. In some situations, clients simply agree to renegotiate with each other, using mediation as a fallback option if they are unable to come up with an agreement on their own.
The flexibility to anticipate and accommodate change in the present is one of many advantages of using a mediation process. The time spent now to address how to adapt current agreements for future contingencies can pay off in reduced stress and less time and money required to resolve issues in the future.