In this excellent article from the Jersey City Times, Jayne Freedman, offers, in her words, "an ode to divorce mediation", particularly its positive impact on children. Over Jayne's ten years of being happily divorced and of counseling families based on her own experience, Jayne has referred at least a dozen couples to private mediation instead of traditional divorce lawyers.
As Jayne writes, "Children are probably the best reason for parents to consider private mediation over lawyers and court. There are typically an array of intense emotions surrounding a divorce. And when anger is combined with parenting, you stand a good chance of letting it bleed into your children’s lives, coloring their sense of self. In the midst of a traditional divorce and custody battle it’s not uncommon for children to require cognitive therapy. They are sometimes depressed, anxious, or angry themselves. That’s understandable because our decisions and behavior will affect our kids. It’s not separation or divorce that hurt children, It’s conflict.
Children are hyper-aware of the tensions that ricochet between their parents, even if care is taken not to blatantly argue in their presence. When parents engage in mediation a more “collaborative” structure occurs. Collaboration is what mediators encourage and what propels you toward resolution. Counseling and therapy might be necessary too, just to help you separate with less residual anger, but mediation is the first step toward compromise.
Divorce is generally a crisis, but it needn’t be traumatic. How it unfolds is entirely in your hands.