Free Divorce? Not!
Not that divorce is easy, and not that divorce is an ideal to strive for. No. Divorce is one of the most wrenching personal decisions and transitions a person can ever make. Divorce is hard. It's hard on everyone. And frankly, it's not always easy to be a divorce mediator.
What I feel good about is the fact that divorce mediation is much better for most people, most of the time, than the alternatives of either going to war in court or of pretending falsely that there is nothing to argue over. It also feels good to use my skills to help people through what is a most challenging time in their lives. Whether the issue is parenting, how to make the most of the finances, or the most fair way to divide up property, I make a living by helping people find their way along a very dark path.
My lament, is only that so many people don't understand what mediation is, or that they don't consider mediation first, before they proceed to the very disempowering and expensive process of divorce litigation. It's also a big concern that there are no real professional standards for "what is a mediator." Anyone can call themselves a mediator. It's up to the consumer to determine whether their mediator is qualified, or not. To be fair, some organizations try to offer some accrediting standards.
My personal favorite accreditation standard for divorce mediation is the standard set by the Association for Conflict Resolution. I am currently working toward the standard for Advanced Practitioner Status with that organization. The bar is high enough to assure competence, but not so high that it is impossible to achieve. I'm less impressed with the designation of "Court Certified" that is used by so many attorney mediators. The training itself is adequate, but there too often is a failure (in my view) to leave behind the litigation paradigm and, instead, to allow mediation to be used merely as a settlement tool for litigated divorce.
To make matters worse for me and for the profession of mediation, all sorts of NON-mediators are paying money to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the other major search engines, to displace real content with paid advertisements. They're after nothing less than the "divorce dollar". Try it out and see what I mean! Do a Google or Bing search for "divorce mediator," or for "divorce mediation" and what will Google send you? The first results you see will likely say: "Experienced Family Lawyer," or "Divorce Attorney," followed closely by advertising sites that demand a subscription fee to be listed.
If you want to really learn about divorce mediation, try my professional site, http://www.xanskinner.com or check out the grand-daddy of mediator web sites, http://www.mediate.com . There is plenty of free information on my site about divorce and options for divorce, designed to help people make decisions, find information, and links to other resources (such as one of my favorite sites, http://www.uptoparents.org ).
If you truly want a do-it-yourself divorce, it's also not necessary to purchase forms from a divorce form factory. South Carolina residents who really want a "free divorce" may download self-represented litigant forms directly from the web site of the S.C. Supreme Court. All you'll have to pay is the court filing fee: http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/forms/indexSRLdivorcepacket.cfm
Of course, there are plenty of reasons not to do this. Remember the Janis Joplin song, "freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose"? In divorce, penny wise can be pound foolish. Really pound foolish. Freedom isn't really free. In divorce, or in life. I wrote about that today in a blog article (HERE) on my professional site.
Two hours with a divorce mediator can help a divorcing couple ascertain whether they've actually reached agreement on the major issues that need to be decided in divorce, or not. And if they haven't reached authentic agreement, some sessions in divorce mediation can help them find the path to agreement, without rolling over and without going to war.
Whether in marriage or in divorce, or in life generally, pay the price to get it right. You'll be glad you made the investment.