Divorce can be a long, painful business, particularly when the two parties can’t agree on issues like the children born of the marriage, and money.
But by going the route of mediation rather than litigation minimizes stress and doesn’t cost as much litigation. It also helps couples maintain control over their futures, rather than relying on a judge to decide on settlement issues.
What Mediation Means
In essence, mediation is a method used to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court. If it is successful, you will prevent litigation and everything that goes with it.
So what does mediation mean, and how does it work?
First of all, opting for divorce mediation doesn’t mean you don’t need a divorce attorney. What it does mean is that you (plural) and your lawyers hire a mediator who is a neutral third party. This person is trained as a facilitator and won’t make decisions for you as a judge would. Rather, the mediator works with you and your spouse in an effort to find the very best solutions for both of you and any children you have. Of course, this will involve everything from property and vehicles you may own, rent, or lease, as well as possessions like furniture, and even pets.
There are no hard and fast rules for mediation, but the process mediators follow are similar. Usually, you will:
- Provide background details about the marriage, the family, and reasons for the breakdown.
- Attend a meeting with the mediator where the ground rules will be discussed. It will be at this stage that a decision will be made in terms of whether future meetings will be attended by both of you or whether you will meet the mediator in separate sessions as well.
- The mediator will work with both you and your spouse and encourage you to negotiate and compromise. The aim is to resolve your differences without going to court and relying on an impartial judge to do this for you.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Ultimately, the main benefit of mediation is that you and your spouse have the power to make your own decisions. A mediator cannot order you to do or agree to anything. Additionally, mediation:
- Doesn’t cost nearly as much as litigation.
- Usually ends in a settlement.
- Is 100% confidential. When you go to court there is a public record of everything.
- Allows you to consult an attorney in addition to the mediator you are working with. So you still have access to legal advice.
- Often improves communication between divorcing couples and this can influence your future relationship, and if nothing else, help to avoid future conflict.
Unless domestic violence has been an issue in the relationship, there is no doubt that mediation is a choice worth pursuing. Even in situations where abuse has been a factor, mediation can work.
At Waggoner Hastings, we know how powerful the mediation process can be. Often we are faced with cases that appear to be impossible to resolve, but once a mediator is involved, we manage to produce a settlement both parties are happy with. It does take commitment, but it really is worthwhile.
If you would like to try mediation rather than litigation, call us now. We’re on your side.