Recently, it has become popular for parties getting divorced to mediate and settle the divorce.
Mediation is a process whereby an impartial third party assists the parties getting divorced in resolving conflict and reaching a settlement using specialised negotiation techniques. A mediator helps disputing parties communicate effectively in order to reach an agreement. All disputing parties must actively and meaningfully participate in the mediation. Mediation, if successful, is more cost-effective than litigation – and is private and confidential. The parties are also more likely to preserve a cordial relationship after the agreement is reached.

Importantly, a mediator does not make a decision and impose said decision on the disputing parties. Instead, a mediator guides the parties in reaching a settlement. The mediator allows the parties to voice their desires while listening to and, if necessary, articulating and restating what each party wants in terms that are more neutral. A good mediator aims to defuse tension between the parties and ensure that all communication is productive and respectful. Sometimes, both a family law attorney and trained mental health practitioner will co-mediate a matter where it is beneficial to help the parties settle a dispute effectively. The mediators assist the parties in drafting a consent paper as well as a parenting plan, if applicable.

It is advisable that once the parties reach a settlement, a consent paper and/or parenting plan is drafted and said agreement is made an order of court. This ensures that the parties can rely on court-sanctioned mechanisms to enforce the agreement if either party does not comply with its terms.