Mediation has become a relatively mainstream alternative for couples hoping to quickly and less expensively end their marriage. Many people familiar with the process of mediation already know that it can help couples move through a divorce more quickly while also helping them curtail some of the more expensive aspects of a traditional, litigated divorce.
A less recognized benefit of mediation is how it provides more privacy to the divorcing couple and can help them insulate their children from the potentially damaging drama of a contentious divorce. Since mediation takes place outside of the courts, what happens behind closed doors at a mediation session doesn’t ever have to become public knowledge.
What you say in court will likely become an official court record
For the sake of transparency, fairness and accuracy, there is a transcription of every case that makes its way through the courts. That way, if attorneys or court officials need to revisit a decision at a later time for a potential appeal, they can see exactly what was said and whatever evidence the courts reviewed.
Unfortunately, that also means that outside individuals, including your kids or an investigative journalist looking for dirt on you or your ex, could get a copy of the court records and even publish some of what they find. Unless the courts agree to seal your records, anyone could potentially access them.
You may want to hold your ex accountable for infidelity, for example, but you may not want to make it public knowledge that you had to experience your partner cheating on you. Mediation allows you space in which you can address these issues without making them public knowledge.
Mediation can keep the dirty details out of your kids’ hands indefinitely
If your kids have to come to court to testify or simply because you don’t have childcare, they may hear you and your ex say unkind things about one another. One of the many benefits of divorce mediation is the ability to avoid dragging your kids into the negotiations. Mediation insulates kids from the divorce process as it happens and long afterward as well.
You should consider the potential that your children will look for more information about the end of your marriage as time goes on and they get older. They could request copies of your court records to try to make sense of what led to the end of the marriage. Your children could learn things you would probably rather keep private.
With the exception of circumstances where mediation records become part of a larger court case, it is likely that what you say in mediation will remain confidential. No individual, regardless of how nosy they may be we’ll be able to access those private negotiations or use them against you or your ex in the future. The confidentiality of mediation is a benefit that you should not ignore.