New Hampshire’s courts recommend that divorcing couples attempt to work out any disputes by using alternative dispute resolution methods, like mediation, before the couple goes to trial. Many couples find that mediation helps them resolve all or most of the issues they have. Mediation generally costs less than trial, and it allows a divorcing couple to work things out without the stress and expense of litigation.
During mediation, the divorcing spouses and their attorneys work with a mediator, a neutral person whose job is to help the two sides reach an agreement. The mediator does not decide who “wins” on any issue, and the mediator is not allowed to force one party to accept the other’s terms. Instead, the mediator is present to help each person explain his or her needs, listen to the other party’s position, and attempt to reach a common goal without dissolving into unproductive arguing.
If the parties cannot resolve all their issues in mediation, they still have the option to go before the judge. However, the court encourages divorcing spouses to use mediation as a way to come to the conclusions that are best for both spouses and for their children if they can. Mediation leaves personal issues in the hands of the people they affect most.