If you are going through a divorce, it highly is likely that you will encounter divorce mediation at some point. Whether your spouse approaches you early on about going to a divorce mediator or your attorney presents it to you once the litigation has commenced, it is very common and can be an effective way to resolve your case.
Divorce mediation checklist
Mediation for divorce is a process used to resolve contested issues in a divorce case. It can be used to reach a global resolution of all issues, resolve a narrow set of issues, or a single issue.
Mediation always involves a third party, known as a divorce mediator, who maintains neutrality through the process with the sole purpose of helping the parties reach an agreement. The mediator will not “take sides” but work towards building the consensus needed to resolve the conflict.
An effective mediator will have experience as a family law attorney with additional training in alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. Often, attorneys devote all or a portion of their practice to it, or judges become mediators once they retire. Just as it is important to research the person who you select as your attorney, it equally is important to select a well-qualified and experienced mediator.
Mediation can range from one session to multiple sessions depending on the complexity of the case and personality of the parties. This type of resolution often requires both participants to make concessions, with the guiding principle that the compromises each person makes still are better than the alternative outcome, which can be more conflict, uncertainty, and prolonged litigation.
Divorce mediation costs
One of the major benefits to divorce mediation is that it can help control costs by decreasing the amount of conflict between the parties. Litigation is an expensive process, and mediation offers a way to spend less money. While effective and high-demand mediators still can charge considerable fees, the money spent likely is less than it would be if your case vigorously were litigated.
Reduced conflict also is desirable when minor children are involved as conflict can negatively impact families in numerous ways. Rather than escalate tensions which is common with litigation, when both parties agree to mediate, they set a tone that resolution is important. As a potential benefit, the other spouse may be more willing to compromise.
Mediation also allows the parties to control the outcome of their case. Rather than a judge deciding the important issues that relate to one’s family and finances, mediation allows the parties to be the ultimate decision-maker. In stark contrast, if you choose to go to court, the case solely is decided by the judge, leaving uncertainty on the outcome. Many people choose to mediate because they are part of the decision-making process and have a level of control over the outcome.
Drawbacks to mediation
Often, people do not like this alternative because they feel as if they have missed out on not getting their “day in court.” This chance to present facts, evidence, and legal arguments to a judge can feel like a missed opportunity. For some, this is an important and cathartic part of the divorce process and a successful mediation denies a client this aspect of the case.
Another regret that people may feel when they participate in mediation is the feeling as if a better outcome would have occurred had the case gone to court. While you can never know what a judge would have done in your case, as there simply are too many variables, the feeling of “buyer’s remorse” can cause regret.
To determine if mediation is right for your case, you should consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction to learn more. Whether mediation is required or optional, it can be an excellent avenue to use in resolving a case.