Approaching the end of a marriage is an emotionally wrenching time and determining whether you should settle your divorce in court with lawyers or via a divorce mediator may seem like just one more overwhelming choice. After all, won’t you get a fairer deal in court? Not necessarily. Or perhaps you think, how much of a difference does it really make in the end? A great deal, it turns out.
If you and your spouse are having difficulty deciding to set the mediation process in motion, consider these pros of divorce mediation.
You and your spouse may wish to stay amicable.
Not all divorces are contentious, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t conflicts to be resolved, such as splitting property or negotiating a co-parenting agreement. When you settle a divorce in court, you’re represented by attorneys who advocate solely for the spouse who hired them. This can result in a “me vs. you” process, including a long, pricey court battle that positions you and your spouse as enemies — a difficult position for a number of reasons, from co-parenting children, sharing a business or pets, or even just wanting to keep the peace among in-laws that feel like family.
A divorce mediator doesn’t take sides. As a trained, impartial third party, their goal is to help you and your spouse negotiate, not stubbornly stand your ground. By helping you resolve conflicts and find areas of agreement and compromise, you’ll come to a settlement together, more quickly and agreeably. Ultimately, ask yourself this: Would you prefer to speak through issues with your spouse or through attorneys who charge you by the hour?
You don’t want to break the bank.
Divorce mediation cost can be much more affordable than using attorneys. It tends to be faster with far fewer billable hours. You and your spouse only need one mediator vs. hiring individual attorneys. And you can avoid court and even higher attorney fees. While it’s recommended that you consult an attorney regarding your legal rights or questions even if you choose mediation, you will not be paying twice for the many hour’s litigation can cost, from discovery and delays to conversations between your attorneys, and even a trial. With mediation, the hourly fee is usually far less, the hours spent are far fewer, and the mediator may have a set price for legal document assistance and filing. You’ll enter your mediation relationship understanding the costs upfront, rather than experiencing sticker shock when proceedings drag on for months.
You would like to finalize your divorce quickly.
With divorce mediation, you can come to a final mediation plan in just a few hourly sessions. Compare that to prolonged litigation where you and your spouse are at the mercy of legal procedures and the crowded court system, waiting months for your next court date. Mediation puts the power back in your hands to complete your divorce quickly and cleanly. Mediation firms may also help you with the morass of paperwork so that an unsigned or misfiled form doesn’t slow the process.
You want a personalized solution, not a one-size-fits-all agreement.
A good divorce mediator has the experience of mediating hundreds of cases. With a good divorce mediator, you need not be boxed in by the limited imagination of the law, as judges and litigating attorneys are. They can listen to you and your spouse, dive into the specific issues of your divorce (childcare and support, division of property, alimony), ensure that you consider all important topics, and lead you to solutions that will uniquely work for both you and your spouse post-divorce.
Mediation is personalized. It doesn’t end in cookie-cutter solutions that might work well to end a court case but cause more disagreements (and attorney fees) down the road. Think back to the beginning of your marriage. Did you write your marriage vows, personalizing them to represent your unique relationship, or did you select them from a book? Your divorce mediation agreement should be the same: Even though you have reached the end of your marriage, the resolution should be just as personalized as your vows to represent how you and your spouse wish to separate property, raise your children, and address other important post-divorce issues.
You’d rather create a fair co-parenting arrangement than a court battle.
As divorce has become more prevalent in society, the way parents care for their children post-divorce has become more evolved. Like most parents, it’s likely your goal is to minimize the trauma of divorce as much as possible for your children. And one way to do so is to resolve custody, visitation, and support issues — even considering future scenarios like one parent moving or how you’ll jointly pay for college — without fighting in front of your children.
With litigation and court, parents become separate factions, battling against one another to get what they want. Under the questioning of attorneys, words may be said that can never be taken back. After such arguments, it can be difficult to keep the harmony that’s so beneficial for your kids. In mediation, both sides can have their say without cross-examination or argument. The goal is to negotiate, reason, and come to an agreement, not to “win.” With a divorce mediator facilitating these discussions, tension can be released instead of ratcheted higher, leading to a healthier co-parenting relationship in the future.
You’d prefer a more private setting.
When you hand your divorce over to litigators and, potentially, courts, you’re airing the private details of your marriage in front of divorce lawyers, judges, court staff, and anyone else who may attend your public hearing. It can be embarrassing and stressful to discuss private matters in a public space, as opposed to speaking directly to your spouse with just a mediator (who signs a confidentiality agreement) in attendance.
Additionally, court records are publicly available, except in very rare situations. Any member of the public can gain access to filings, depositions and court testimony records. With mediation, your final divorce paperwork may be public as legal documents, but the details of your negotiations and discussions will not be.
It’s likely that one or more of the above issues will affect your divorce, whether it’s the desire for speed, privacy, cost savings, or just more peaceful proceedings. To pursue an easier divorce, consider picking up the phone and calling a divorce mediator today, or request a free consultation to determine if divorce mediation is right for you.