And the answer is “yes” for most people, and “no” for some others.
In divorce mediation, clients work together to create a divorce agreement covering parenting, division of assets and debts, alimony and child support. The mediator guides them through the process and serves as an impartial facilitator helping the divorcing couple reach a fair and workable compromise. Generally, our clients consult lawyers during the process, but they attend the mediation sessions alone.
So, if you or your spouse have mental health issues but you still can effectively advocate for yourself, then divorce mediation is a good alternative to litigation for you. It is a less stressful, faster process which affords your more control over the outcome, so it may in fact be particularly beneficial for some people. Nonetheless, divorce mediation clients with a history of mental illness or addiction may want to take additional steps in crafting their agreement. For example, the divorce agreement may include requirements that the parties remain in treatment as a condition of the parenting or support plan, or that a parent has to submit to random drug screenings or a breathalyzer test before his/her parenting time begins. Such clauses help protect both the ex-spouses and the children going forward.
However, if one of you is too mentally fragile at this point to fully engage in the negotiation process, it may make more sense for you to use lawyers to help you advocate for your interests. Similarly, if clients are actively using substances that impact their relationship and/or decision-making, we also consider whether that person can participate fully in the process. Divorce mediation is a great alterative to litigation but it may not be appropriate for everyone at every point in their life.
For more information about divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC, at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org