Divorce need not be combative and unbearably stressful. Many spouses are parting as friends, or at least amicably enough that they are able to sit in the same room and talk about how to resolve division of property, child custody and other things that need to be figured out before the divorce can be finalized.

If you believe you and your spouse can do this, divorce mediation may be an option. Instead of using the formal court process, mediation can help the spouses save time and money, and give them greater control of the final outcome.

Divorce mediation is a process in which the spouses meet with an impartial person known as a mediator. The mediator’s job is to facilitate communication and understanding between the spouses. He or she is not there to represent one spouse or the other, but he or she can provide advice on the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s legal positions. The mediator also helps create options that can lead to a resolution.

Many people who go through family law mediation find that they prefer the tone, which is less formal than court and more focused on cooperation and creating a sustainable relationship going forward. If the spouses can work together to negotiate their divorce, there may be less bitterness or feelings of injustice later on.

Mediation is not for every divorcing couple, especially couples who cannot get along, or if one of the spouses is abusive. Consulting with a family law attorney for more information can help you decide if you should try mediation, or proceed with a traditional divorce.