Divorce can be an ugly and painful process – but it doesn’t always have to be. More and more couples are turning to divorce mediation for a more collaborative and collegial end to their marriage.

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse work together with the help of a mediator to find solutions to your issues outside of the courts. But while mediation is more amicable, cost-effective and takes less time than divorce litigation, there are still many misconceptions around the process.

1. Mediation requires being on good terms with your ex

There is a common belief that mediation only works if you were able to end your relationship amicably with your ex. After all, if your marriage was riddled with conflict, why would your divorce mediation be any different?

The key difference in divorce mediation is you and your spouse will have a mediator to guide you. The mediator serves as a neutral third-party that ensures you and your ex stay focused on the terms of your divorce. They will never take sides or make decisions for you. You don’t have to get along with your ex, but you do both need to be willing to cooperate.

2. Mediation will cause you to lose assets

While mediation is private and takes place outside of the courtroom, you and your spouse will still go over all of the things you would in divorce litigation, including:

  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Child support
  • Division of marital property

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse get to come up with the terms of your divorce instead of a judge. This prevents you or your spouse from getting an order they don’t agree with. You are also free to bring in the professional advice of accountants, appraisers or attorneys to help divide your assets fairly.

3. Mediation is the best option for divorce

While it’s true that mediated divorce promotes cooperation and communication, it isn’t the best choice for every couple. Mediation requires that you and your partner collaborate to settle your disputes. But if neither of you are feeling very agreeable or open to compromise, mediation may not be the right option.

There are also circumstances in which mediation will not be an appropriate option for your relationship, including:

  • A spouse is hiding assets
  • A spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction
  • A spouse is physically abusive

Divorce mediation may be an ideal option for couples who wish to set their terms in divorce without the drawn-out court battles.  But ultimately, the decision for whether mediation is right for you is up to you and your spouse.