Advantage of mediation

An important advantage of mediation is that it allows divorcing parties greater control over the consequences of their divorce. Parties are actively involved in the mediation process and can themselves make the important decisions related to divorce.

As a result of this, and also because parties are able to make decisions regarded as fair and right within their particular cultural and moral frame of reference, they are more likely to honour these mediated agreements. Research in this regard has shown that parties, for example, adhere closely to mediated agreements long after their divorce (see Hauser Good divorces, bad divorces: a case for divorce mediation (1995) 18; Goldberg "Family mediation is alive and well in the United States of America: a survey of recent trends and developments" 1996 TSAR 370).

Mediation also improves communication between divorcing parties. Mediators are schooled in, amongst other things, the social and behavioural sciences, and know what techniques and strategies to use to lessen conflict between parties and to bridge communication gaps. Meaningful communication between parties usually uncovers all sorts of problems, including underlying issues that often remain hidden in divorce litigation (see Scott-MacNab & Mowatt "Mediation and arbitration as alternative procedures in maintenance and custody disputes in the event of divorce" 1986 De Jure 316; Rogers & Palmer "A speaking analysis of ADR legislation for the divorce neutral" 2000 St Mary's Law Journal 875-876).

Constructive communication between parties also betters the level of cooperation between parties during the divorce process and the period thereafter. Although, on the one hand, mediation teaches parties how to deal with conflict in a non-aggressive way, on the other hand, it gives them the opportunity to express their feelings of bitterness, disappointment and anger.

Furthermore, mediation allows parties to deal with those matters they feel are important, but which the law may consider frivolous or unenforceable. Therefore, unlike in litigation, the mediation process is not restricted solely to legal issues, and allows parties to deal with all facets of divorce. The mediation process is also more accessible than litigation.

It is an informal and simple process which people can understand and in which they can fully participate (see Dorf, Hendler & Alion 1995 "Mediating Family Law Disputes" Maryland Bar Journal 20). Furthermore, it is a flexible and creative process which takes place in an unthreatening atmosphere and takes religious and cultural differences into account. Therefore parties can easily relate to the mediation process, especially where the mediation services are offered by community centres.

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