Nia Vardalos, the actress and writer known for the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, recently announced that she and her husband of 25 years, Ian Gomez, also an actor, are divorcing. But this will not be a Hollywood tabloid affair; in fact, it will go virtually unnoticed because they have chosen to use mediation.
The parties obviously have significant assets together, as well as a child they adopted. Consequently, they must decide how to divide their property, how to address spousal support, and how to structure custody of their daughter.
Mediation has definite advantages. First, it generally costs much less than a traditional divorce. The parties do not have to hire their own attorneys but instead rely on the mediator. Second, it lets the parties structure a solution rather than the court impose one. Third, it usually involves less acrimony because the process is controlled by the mediator and the parties are guided to working through to solutions.
But in order for mediation to really work, each party must be open to the process – meaning that they can get along with the other spouse and communicate clearly and patiently to resolve issues. For high conflict divorces, mediation generally will not work because the parties cannot sit in a room together and talk, let alone work through their issues.
Also, for mediation to work, the parties must be generally on the same page with regard to the big issues of property, custody and support. So, for example, if one spouse want sole custody and the other spouse wants the opposite, they are too far apart at the outset to reach a mediated settlement. By contrast, if both agree on joint custody and just differ on a schedule of custody, that could be successfully mediated.
In the case if Nia and Ian, it appears from their statements and court filings that they desire to work all these matters out in mediation, which means they are probably on the same page for most issues and just need the guidance of a mediator to reach an amicable resolution to outstanding issues.
In celebrity divorce, one would think mediation a great way to go because of the privacy and the reduced conflict. But as with people in general, celebrity marriages can be combative and the spouses can be at polar ends of the spectrum in terms of expectations.
If you have questions about mediation and divorce, contact us – we can help.