Mediation, as an alternate dispute resolution process in a separation and divorce matter, must be given serious consideration over attorney-led negotiations and the litigation (or the threat of litigation) which almost always accompanies such adversarial negotiations.
In the past, separating or divorcing couples always went to a divorce lawyer to enter into a separation agreement or negotiate and often litigate a divorce. Thankfully, today mediation is becoming more widely accepted in the legal community and the court system. However, it’s more often the parties themselves who are unaware of the advantages and option of separating or divorcing through mediation. Why is this?
- Although it’s been around for quite some time, it is only now becoming more commonplace.
- Typically, emotions are running so high when a couple decides to separate, that obtaining a “divorce lawyer” is the first thing that they think of.
- Often couples feel that they can’t possibly negotiate anything with their spouse and that only a “divorce lawyer” can get them all that they feel they are entitled to whether that means custody of the children, child support, property settlement, visitation, alimony, etc.
However, the reality of divorce through litigation is that only a tiny number of cases go to a trial before a judge. The overwhelming majority are settled, usually, after mountains of papers have been filed in the court, of course, fueled by high-conflict negative emotions and funded by the parties’ legal fees. Therefore parties end up paying for the litigation and the settlement. Very often at that point, retainers have run out (and so the attorney has no sure way of being paid) and suddenly the lawyers are ready to give the clients the “go-ahead” to settle. Settlement often occurs in a panic, while the parties are trying to avoid the deadline of a court-scheduled dated, and such settlements often produce remorse for one party or the other. Very often,” who gets what” is a matter of who had the better lawyer.
So, how is the Mediation Experience Different?
- A mediator takes control of the negotiations and helps guide you through the emotional aspects of divorce to come to an agreement that all parties can live with.
- You and your spouse are in control of the outcome, not your lawyers. You control the specifics of your child custody, separation agreement, financial settlement, what your life will actually look like post-divorce.
- You control your schedule. You schedule mediation to suit your life obligations. We can schedule mediation sessions during regular business hours, evenings and/or weekends.
- You control the costs. You can schedule mediation sessions as your budget allows. This stops the sudden outflow of money in the most financially delicate time in your life.
- You don’t forfeit your legal rights. You can have consultations with your lawyer if you need to — an hour or two of your lawyer’s time is far different than handing over a large retainer and letting the lawyer spend with your money until it runs out and then bills you for the rest.