When you walk down the aisle, you don't picture yourself ten years down the road arguing about who gets the house and where the kids will spend the holidays. But for thousands of American couples, divorce happens. Mediation is taking some of the emotional trauma and the cost out of the ordeal.
There's a reason mediation is often called "coming to the table." It gives couples an opportunity to talk about what they want with a neutral third party. And it all happens outside of the courtroom.
"When you know that you have the opportunity to make a decision jointly versus a long, drawn-out, physically, mentally draining experience in the courts, it's a much easier route," says client Kimber Jacox.
Jacox and Phil Millard went into mediation in March to deal with the custody of their son. They have successfully worked out an agreement.
"There may be issues where I would not want to listen to what she's saying, and she does not want to listen to what I'm saying, but if we can have a third party say the same things to me or say the same things to her, we'll be able to hear it a lot better," Millard says.
Mediator Dianne Seigle says about 98 percent of the couples who go through the program leave with a resolution in place.
In addition to getting results, couples save time and money.
Mediation Services of Wake County charges people on a sliding scale. Clients pay from nothing to $75 per hour depending upon their income. Going through the court system costs thousands.
The group has just launched a new program called "Separating Together" which adds a therapist for each family member into the mix and lawyers who agree not to take the case to court.