Divorce does not have to be a dirty word | Roseville Minnesota

Excerpts from an article by Rachel M. Anderson

Mediators help couples resolve differences

When they were first married, 21 years ago, life was good for Becky and Kurt who live in the Twin Cities.  But 16 years and two kids later, they started drifting apart. “After my ex went into self employment, he became very much absorbed in his business and that took time away from family and me,” says Becky. “There was a lot of frustration. We had a communication breakdown.”

They went to marriage counseling and tried some self help programs because they really wanted things to work, but none of it helped. They continued to drift apart. 

After five years of unhappiness in their marriage Becky and Kurt made the decision to split up, but when they started looking into the steps required to get a divorce, the costs involved scared them. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, between the filing fees, court fees and paying the attorneys, the average divorce costs a couple between $15,000 – $30,000. But cost wasn’t the only thing that scared Kurt and Becky. They also had a lot of uncertainty about the road head.

“When it came time to make decisions there was no way either one of us was going to agree on things,” she says.   Their therapist recommended they give mediation, a practice where they could communicate through a third party, a try. Having watched her two sisters go through bitterly contested divorces, Becky decided that was the way to go.    “I wanted to minimize the stress as much as possible,” she says.

Kurt and Becky had agreed on joint custody for their now 16-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son early on. What they couldn’t agree on was the division of marital assets.

Kurt and Becky’s divorce proceeding began with an initial mediation consultation – a free one hour session in which they learned what was involved in the process and how to prepare. They quickly discovered mediation is much less expensive than using attorneys.

They left the consultation with a questionnaire that required them to list their personal information, assets, liabilities, income and monthly expenses. When they returned for their first session, they documented and valued all of their assets and liabilities and came to an agreement on how their marital property would be divided. In the second session they determined how they would handle spousal support, child support and agreed on a parenting plan which provided the framework for co-parenting their children going forward.

Once their documents were complete, Becky and Kurt formally filed for divorce with the county. After a routine default hearing (required for pro se divorces with minor children) their divorce decree was signed by the judge and their divorce was complete. From the time they began mediating until the date their divorce was official, just two months had passed.

More and more couples intending to divorce are seeking cost effective and family-focused divorce services these days, and as a result choose to try mediation before retaining attorneys. In addition, judges across Minnesota have made it clear they don’t want to see couples come into court without attempting mediation first. In response, attorneys often refer unsettled cases to mediators prior to going to trial.

Divorce becomes a dirty word when people take an adversarial stance, dig relational foxholes, and start lobbing emotional grenades at each other.  There is already pain in the system because of the difficulties that led up to the divorce, but the process of restructuring your lives doesn’t need to be six to thirty-six of war. There are better options. There are ways to set aside the pain and make good decisions for your children and for your future.   If divorce is about to happen, consider carefully your process options and the potential consequences.  For information on process options, contact Dorman Mediation to set up your free one-hour consultation.*

* added by Jeff Dorman

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