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Divorce mediation a positive for kids in a difficult process

Marriage is not an easy feat, as many know from experience. However, it can be hard to understand that marriage can deteriorate to a point where divorce is the best answer. Last week, the best-selling author and blogger Penelope Trunk declared that divorce was rarely, if ever the answer. She listed her reasons, stating that divorce was "nearly always terrible for kids," and a sign of mental illness. She pointed her finger at divorcing parents, calling them "immature and selfish." However, many disagree with Trunk.

There is no denying that divorce is difficult on children. The stress of ending a committed relationship combined with complex asset division, such as, divvying martial property, can create for a negative environment at home. Yet, an ongoing unhappy marriage may be even worse. Some scholars argue that divorce, when it ends a stressful and unhappy marriage, actually helps kids.

Researchers even speculate that the quality of the divorce itself can have an impact on kids. If it's a "bad" divorce, one that causes financial hardship, or that results in lost contact with a parent, then the child may not be better off. However, if it's a "good" divorce, children may find themselves in more stable and positive environment than before the divorce.

The divorce process doesn't need to be as painful or daunting as one might expect, especially if the parties agree to mediation. Mediation is an informal, voluntary process in which a mediator, trained in facilitation and negotiation techniques, assists all parties to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. The divorcing couple can address their concerns and demands in a less adversarial and more intimate environment than a courtroom might provide. Many spouses who undergo mediation avoid intensifying a hostile environment that could accompany divorce.

Trunk may be right that divorce has the potential to be terrible for kids. But a long, unhappy marriage may be worse. Divorcing well, while still an unfortunate experience for those involved, can end an unhappy marriage and limit harm to children, an effort that should never be called immature or selfish.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is Divorce Immature and Selfish?" Christine Carter, March 15, 2012

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