Are those choosing mediation happier with their settlements?

Recently on this blog we discussed mediation, one of several excellent options for divorcing couples who don't want an "ugly" divorce -- one where there relationship ends up worse than when they started. Along with collaborative divorce and other alternative dispute resolution options, divorce mediation promises concrete benefits in maintaining, or even building, positive working relationships between divorcing parents.

As we know, long-term research has demonstrated that divorces handled through mediation or collaborative law tend to result in divorce settlements people are more willing to honor over time. Also, when modifications to those settlements are needed over time, those who used mediation or collaborative divorce are more likely to handle the modification process with less conflict.

But how does mediation stack up against traditional divorce in terms of the financial aspects of divorce?

A recent survey attempted to find out, and its results were illuminating. See more detailed findings in this article, including some about the results in non-financial areas.

Basically, around 400 divorced people were asked 17 questions evaluating how satisfied they were with the divorce process they had used. Did the process result in a satisfying financial settlement?

Mediation results were better, but many people wanted more financial guidance

Somewhat surprisingly, the survey found that people who chose a mediated divorce were only slightly happier with their financial settlements than those who went through a courtroom divorce. Why might that be?

The results of another question may provide a clue: even the happiest mediation clients were somewhat dissatisfied with their financial settlements. Moreover, no matter which process they used, fully 75 percent said a financial coach would have been helpful during the divorce process. (The survey was conducted by a company that offers financial coaching services, but the results are still striking.)

Consider this: Almost 40 percent of people who chose mediation (and 45 percent of those who chose a courtroom divorce) considered themselves at least somewhat unprepared for the division of marital property and other financial aspects of divorce.

Should you hire a financial guide for your divorce? It depends on the complexity of your financial situation and on whether your attorney has the experience to protect your assets in a complex divorce.