This past year has thrown much more than the average financial crisis at the typical couple; restrictions imposed by local and federal authorities have caused more tension in the home between couples. Whether caused by a decrease in social interaction or the opportunity to get on one’s nerves more often, being in close quarters with few outlets for entertainment or time to oneself has driven up the divorce rate.

Financial problems have been exacerbated by the loss of income due to business closures and layoffs resulting from closures and limited traffic in brick-and-mortar businesses. Add to the mix having kids home year-round and attempting to keep them on task with all the distractions of pets, toys, and Netflix.

At a time when finances are tight, couples may decide to tough it out due to the fear of the excessive costs associated with divorce attorneys. Yet, if they are able to agree on terms and can communicate to some extent without arguing, a less expensive path to divorce and a much more peaceful one can be taken with a divorce mediator.

Given all the difficulties you have experienced, if you can make the divorce process less painful, isn’t that the smarter option? A consultation with a mediation attorney should help you determine whether it is the right path but a few things you can do to ensure a smoother process are:

  1. 1. Gather all your financial records including assets in cash, 401ks, stocks, properties, bank accounts, and all bills and debts, etc.
  2. 2. Sit down with your spouse and detail what you can agree on including the sale of home (if applicable), custody, finances, etc.
  3. 3. Get an appraisal of assets, such as a home.

At your first appointment, the mediator will determine how many sessions to schedule to sort out any points of contention. As you resolve each issue, that part of the agreement can be drafted. Upon completion of the divorce agreement draft, each party will have his or her own attorney review the agreement before it is filed.

The divorce mediator’s job is to help you to work through the agreement peacefully, but this is only possible if both parties can communicate civilly. If arguing becomes heated or violence ensues, the mediator will recommend you turn to a divorce litigator. This can happen when one side refuses to negotiate, so give this some thought in advance. If your situation is already violent, mediation is probably not the right choice for you.

Working out custody arrangements is often a difficult part of the agreement to work through. This year, we have new challenges for working parents and one parent may be compelled to stay at home throughout the home-schooling process or while the child is quarantined following exposure to Covid or a positive test. Both parties need to cooperate through this challenge whether through financial support or flexibility in schedule.

By reducing the stress level for the divorcing couple, the process should go faster and be easier for children. Today’s health challenges will continue to create difficulties long after the divorce process ends and will require ongoing cooperation for the benefit of your children’s happiness.

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