Hire a Divorce Mediator
Divorce mediation is an alternative to the traditional litigation process for couples who wish to settle their divorce outside of court, but need assistance in reaching an agreement. It is a private and confidential process where you and your spouse sort through the issues of your divorce together with the help of a trained neutral mediator. The mediator is there to provide information, guide the discussion, and suggest ideas to help resolve conflict as the parties decide what is fair and reasonable for their unique situation. The goal is for the couple to reach a settlement agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.
What Are the Advantages of Mediation?
Confidentiality – Everything discussed in mediation is private and confidential and will never become part of any public records. Both spouses sign confidentiality agreements to help reassure them that no statements or offers made during the negotiation process can be used against them later in litigation.
Control – You and your spouse will make all of the decisions and you control how fast or how slow proceedings develop. Since you are cooperating to design an agreement that works for both of you, you are both more likely to be satisfied with the outcome. There are no surprises and no worrying and waiting for a court’s decision, and you and your spouse maintain control of the entire process under the guidance of an informed neutral mediator.
Post-Divorce Relationship – Since you and your spouse work together to reach an agreement that you can both support, you are less likely to experience the level of conflict and hostility that is often associated with the traditional litigation process. The cooperation, communication, and conflict resolution skills that are encouraged in mediation can significantly increase your chances of being able to treat each other with courtesy and respect after the divorce. This is critical when children are involved.
Money – You can potentially save thousands of dollars on what you might pay to go through the litigation process, especially if your case would have ended up in a lengthy trail.
Time – Because you are working from the same pool of information and focusing on resolution, you are likely to reach an agreement much faster than with the traditional litigation process. Depending on the complexity of your situation and your mutual willingness to cooperate, you may even be able to finish the mediation process in one or two sessions.
Stress – When you decide to mediate, you can avoid the stress that litigation causes your family. When you reach a settlement in mediation and follow up with an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will most likely never have to deal with the stress of testifying in open court. Most importantly, you have the opportunity to significantly reduce the stress that divorce brings to your children. Since both parties are working for a win-win solution, the overall amount and intensity of conflict may be greatly reduced, making an unavoidably painful experience easier for everyone to deal with.
Will Divorce Mediation Work for Me?
That depends on you and your spouse, your commitment to the process, and how hard you are willing to work. Even if you are not able to reach an agreement on all the issues, you may reach an agreement on some issues and ask the Court to decide the rest for you. You still cut down significantly on the time that you spend in litigation and its associated costs.
Divorce mediation is not just for “friendly” couples and can work EVEN IF you and your spouse are angry at each other and barely speaking. All divorcing couples should explore mediation before starting the formal litigation process. Since it is a completely voluntary process, either of the parties may withdraw at any time if it is not working.
Mediation may not be the right option for you if there is a history of abuse in the relationship where either party is not comfortable speaking up for themselves, or where there is significant concern either spouse is hiding assets or not being forthcoming about their financial situation. In these situations, it may be in your best interest to hire your own attorney to represent you during the entire divorce process to ensure your rights are protected. Mediation may be an unnecessary step if you and your spouse are already in basic agreement on all the major issues and can proceed directly to an uncontested divorce. Remember, child support is usually determined by a formula and is generally not subject to negotiation.
What Should I Expect?
Once you and your spouse have made the decision to try mediation, it is important to know that each side will be looked at non-biased. You may choose to work together and share information, but the mediator will need to compare each person’s stories separately.
Please remember that if you choose to hire a mediator, they will work for both of you and must remain completely neutral. If you are interested in mediation, please make an effort to refrain from discussing specific details of your case with the mediator outside the presence of your spouse.