A cheaper, friendlier alternative to divorce
Mediation is a process that attempts to defuse emotional tension and find areas of agreement that were previously unrecognized. Mediation uses trained professional, often times people that have extensive training in negotiation and the law.
- the mediator assists the couple in coming to an agreement that they themselves must agree to. He or she listens to each party in an informal setting and guides the parties to making decisions
- mediation reduces or eliminates the leverage one party or party’s lawyer can have over the other party
- when mediation is heading toward an unsuccessful conclusion, the parties become acutely aware of the amount of hard work that is lost, and can envision the pending effort and expense litigation will demand
- mediation tends to level the playing field, short-circuiting efforts to wear down one side emotionally, financially and physically by scheduling expensive hearings during litigation
Sometimes couples interact in mediation, therapy or counseling in a setting that they believe is confidential, but the other side can call the therapist as a witness, or subpoena your therapy records and then hire an expert to put a damaging spin on what the records mean. You must be aware of this, and check state laws about confidentiality before you participate.
If you are in a contested, ugly divorce, your choices can be spun to make you look bad. Having a good lawyer with you can head off these efforts, so asking your attorney to participate in any of these sessions can help you immensely.
- Litigate versus Mediate – in litigation, you spend lots of money, paying for discovery, delays, phone conversations between attorneys and trials. In Mediation, you save money. Often times the combined mediation fees, reviews by attorneys and paperwork preparation can come in under $1,000.00
- Kids caught in the middle – in contested litigated cases, the court will appoint an attorney (guardian ad litem -GAL) for your kids, who can insist on expensive, invasive psychological evaluations of your family. In Mediation, you two determine what is right for them, and they are kept out of the fray
- Decision making – in litigation, the outcome will be decided by the judge. Mediation permits you and your spouse to determine the outcome
- Public versus private – in litigation, some or all of the record can be public record. Details can make their way onto the internet. Sensitive declarations or accusations can become public. In Mediation, you maintain your reputation, no declarations are made public. It often is a confidential process
- Property division – in litigation, aggressive attorneys frequently go for the jugular. Judges can be unpredictable, and one side may attempt to wear down the other side. It is common that one or both spouses are even angrier after a trial. In Mediation, the mediator helps you negotiate a fair settlement. The negotiated settlement from mediation is more likely to be complied with
Do what you can to avoid litigation. Also, do not overlook the need to update your will before the ink dries on the divorce decree.
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