Here’s an article from the New Straits Times (Malaysia) on divorce mediation.  Mediation is not just an American function, but global.  And the benefits are the same all over.

Speedy end to divorce plight via mediation

MALACCA, June 19, 2007:

After waiting for 1½ years for their divorce to be heard in court, they decided to appoint a mediator. Their marriage was dissolved in five hours.

Janice and her husband Ricky (not their real names) filed a divorce petition in 2003 and a date was set for the hearing at the Penang High Court in 2004.

The judge who heard their case three years ago had suggested that they appoint a mediator “in order to speed up the divorce process”.

The mediator’s role is to help the aggrieved parties find a solution to their problem as opposed to the adversarial approach of the court.

“I didn’t know what a mediator was at that time but agreed to appoint one after consulting my lawyer. It was supposed to be a cheaper and faster method,” said Janice, 35, a bank executive and mother of three.

She was devastated when she found lurid SMSes sent by another woman in her husband’s mobile phone and demanded an immediate divorce. She also sought custody of their children.

The couple thought that the only way of ending the marriage and contesting for the children’s custody was through the courts.

“If I had known about mediation earlier, I could have saved a lot of hassle.

“The 1½-year wait was a torture. I became frustrated and bitter worrying about my children. My work was affected and I turned into a walking zombie,” said Janice.

Two weeks later, they found a mediator.

“He was very professional. He called for a meeting with the two of us in a private conference room and heard both sides of our stories.

“About five hours later, we were able to settle our disputes. We also understood each other’s problems and apologised to each other. My ex-husband and I are friends now,”

They also decided to raise the children together.

Janice said before the appointment of the mediator, she and her husband were made to attend three marriage tribunal sessions before the case was heard in court.

“It was frustrating. The tribunal was dysfunctional. The sessions did not help.”

Instead of helping, she said, the officer told them: “Macam ini pun tak boleh settle sendirikah?” (Can’t you settle this matter yourselves?)

Janice would have paid at least RM5,000 if her divorce was settled in court compared with the mediator’s fee which was less than RM1,000.