The U.S. divorce rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly four decades, according to Time Magazine. As noted in an article published late last year, roughly 17 out of every 1,000 married couples sought divorce in 2015 (the last year for which statistics are available) – a drop of more than 25 percent from the peak divorce rate, reached in 1980, when 23 couples per 1,000 sought divorce.
A range of factors has contributed to this advance. Chief among them is the fact that couples are waiting longer to get married. Cohabitation has been de-stigmatized, and many couples choose to live together before marrying, and thus develop a sense of whether their relationships are viable. Likewise, by waiting longer, individuals are likely to develop financial independence prior to marriage, which can help prevent monetary concerns from threatening the relationship.
But perhaps even more heartening than the lowered divorce rate is the fact that, when couples do part ways, more and more of them are doing so amicably. Approaching divorce through mediation is a big part of why this is the case.
Agreeing to agree
In a traditional divorce, each spouse will hire a lawyer to protect his or her best interests. As many know, matters can quickly become rancorous as spouses – through their attorneys – fight for whatever they can salvage from the marriage. This approach can be particularly difficult on any children involved, who bear witness to their parents’ bitterness and suffer many of the emotional effects.
In mediation, spouses meet together with a neutral third party who helps guide them toward a fair, and mutually beneficial, resolution. Instead of each spouse fighting for himself or herself, the couple enters proceedings with an understanding that the process will be collaborative. There will be disagreements, but there will be a shared goal to move past them.
Not so surprisingly, couples find that working together to finalize their divorce decree is less time-consuming, less expensive, and easier on children. They are able to resolve a full gamut of concerns including:
- Asset division
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Retirement considerations
- Tax considerations
There will be disagreements, but there will be a shared goal to move past them. And that, in many cases, is enough to help couples through the process.