Mediation — The Cheaper Alternative to Divorce!
It’s extremely common for divorcing couples to become frustrated with the extraordinary costs and prolonged delays associated with the overburdened and adversarial legal system. It can be months or even years of emotional rollercoasters, attending motion hearings, exchanging countless financial documents, and conducting numerous meetings and phone calls with your attorney.
And because you are always at the mercy of the very busy court system, your divorce could drag out for months or even years before you have any kind of resolution.
Luckily, there is a more efficient way!
Mediation is an alternative process to the conventional divorce. It is a cheaper, quicker and less adversarial method to dividing the marital estate, determining the best parenting plan, calculating support options and more.
But how does mediation work?
A mediator is a neutral third party who does NOT represent either spouse, but instead facilitates a settlement between both parties in a fair and effective manner.
The mediator’s role is to simply help the parties identify the areas of dispute, negotiate the issues, determine acceptable solutions, and ultimately come to an agreement that both parties are comfortable with.
While the mediator is actively involved in negotiations, the spouses are the ones in control. Instead of relying on a Judge to determine the outcome, both parties have an equal say and can hopefully come to an amicable resolution on their own.
A mediator will always strive to keep your conversations productive and focus your attention towards making rational decisions that are fair for both parties.
Instead of working against each other as is typical in a litigation-based divorce, couples work together in mediation to determine an outcome that is favorable to both parties. In cases where children are involved, mediation may be the far better option, where studies have shown that mediating couples have a better chance of maintaining a healthy ongoing relationship for the sake of their kids.
Should you still hire a lawyer?
While many mediators are attorneys, they do not represent either party and CANNOT give legal advice. Mediators simply present both parties with the appropriate information regarding applicable laws or court procedures, but they cannot advise either party.
Because your mediator cannot advise you, it is not uncommon for individuals partaking in mediation to hire a consulting attorney, who can give them legal advice and read over the proposed agreement before it is signed. You can also hire a lawyer to attend mediation with you; although, it is usually suggested that couples initially try to mediate on their own, with the attorneys only consulting from the outside.
It’s important to note that even if you hire a mediator and a consulting lawyer, your costs will likely still be SIGNIFICANTLY LESS than if you went to Court.
When is mediation NOT a good idea?
Although mediation is a great alternative to the traditional litigation approach to divorce, it is not for everyone. Mediation may not be for you, if:
- You have concerns that your spouse is hiding assets
- You have difficulty expressing your opinions or standing up for yourself
- There is a history of emotional or physical abuse
- One or both parties may have impaired judgment (drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, disabilities, etc.)
What else should you know about mediation?
Mediation is completely voluntary and because of that, either party can ultimately decide to end the sessions at any time.
Mediation is also entirely confidential. When filing a divorce action in Court, it’s important to note that EVERYTHING is public record (unless you get specific permission from the Court). On the other hand, your mediation sessions are completely private, whether you come to an agreement or not.
You can use as many sessions as you need, but if you feel that mediation is not working or you would prefer to go the more traditional route, you can end the engagement and be on your way.
So… why not give it a try?
If you and your spouse are interested in trying to mediate your divorce, please contact our office at 978-263-4160 and schedule a free initial consultation with our certified family law mediator, Jessica MacAdie. We look forward to hearing from you!