what is required to make it work
Two people that want to make it work. ie. if one person walks in and just wants it all their way or the highway, it's a waste of money. If both sides can listen to the mediator and hear what they say and agree, then it will go smoothly.
We hired a mediator. I had done my homework and knew the laws on the big issues. My XH just wanted it done to be with his AP. The mediator would bring up something, we would listen, and for the most part said ok to whatever the "norm" was. Custody was a sticking point, where I told the mediator and him to forget it. I wasn't going with 50/50 so it was pretty on paper when I knew he couldn't do 50/50 and I would then get less CS, but still all the work and expenses. It is ok to say I'm done talking about that now, move on. We will come back to it later. She brought up items I hadn't even thought of so that was helpful. My XH was also very agreeable for the most part.
Bottom line is, if you know your X can be reasonable and is motivated to get things done, mediation can be a big help to iron out a lot of the little things. If you know your X is going to walk in and say I want all my retirement, all my cash, no CS, No SS, I keep the house and she leaves with nothing and he won't budge...well, mediation isn't going to work.
WH says marriage is over: May 15, 2009.
EA#2 July 20, 2009. Legally sep: Aug 16, 2009. DIVORCED!!!! Signed Nov 23, final Dec 24, 2010, adultery listed.
Due you research. This is good book "Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally: What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, and After Divorce"
Gather documents. In some states you are entitled to your share of the marital assets spent on the affair. Such as dinners, hotels and ipads etc.
A simple credit check would have found H's secret credit card.
I think it is much cheaper.
I think it CAN be less stressful, provided you can cope with being in the same room with and negotiating with your STBX. Rather than back and forth with lawyers, and having to read outrageous demands in writing, the two of you just hash it out. I think that in general, mediating avoids the ridiculous blood-pressure-raising demands that some lawyers like to try as "a starting negotiating position".
On the other hand if your STBX is a yelling bully you might find it less stressful to have everything go through your lawyer.
The other thing I will warn you is that if either of you is passive-agressive, mediating can be slooooow. You won't have a lawyer insisting on a response within N days, so if either party doesn't want to "deal with" matters, they are going to languish. It's helpful if there is a financial incentive to push things along. My Ex avoided approving the final wording of the settlement we negotiated until he realized it was going to cost him in taxes if we didn't finalize by the end of the year.
Two people that want to make it work. ie. if one person walks in and just wants it all their way or the highway, it's a waste of money.
In my case it was a waste of money. I knew my STBXWW was no candidate for it, as she is irrational and selfish by nature. I even told her this, but she assured me she would be fine in mediation.
Suffice to say it didn't go well for the above reasons. Then she cancelled our second mediation session without consulting me and that was that: I filed and now we are going the traditional divorce route.
If you think you and your spouse can do it, it really can be the way to go, as it is quick and cheap. But assess beforehand your personalities.
All the best. I hope it works for you.