Most divorces can be resolved through mediation even high conflict or complicated divorces. The benefits of mediation can be huge when choosing mediation over a trial in your divorce case.
Most people don't know that even the most complicated and acrimonious divorces can be resolved through divorce mediation.
Divorce is a difficult, costly & painful process that causes emotional stress to all individuals involved. When going through a divorce, there is something to be said for working it out instead of going to court… especially when there are children involved.
This sometimes makes people who are going through a divorce think that they could not possibly meet with their spouse face to face.
However, this is not the case. Professional divorce mediators are trained in conflict resolution and know how to create an open yet safe atmosphere where even the most conflicted of issues can be discussed and even agreements be made during the mediation process.
If you go to trial on your case the judge will be making all of the decisions for you based on what both parties and their attorneys have provided as evidence.
Even though I am a divorce attorney I am like anyone else. I don’t like to be told what to do when it comes things in my life. My first reaction is to repel or pull back. But the reality is, in family law court when a judge issues a court order to you whether it be for child support, custody, payment of alimony, you have to abide by their ruling.
If you don’t follow the judge’s order there can be financial consequenses, jail time or even loss of parenting time or custody of your child. So If you do choose to fight your divorce or custody battle in court and you don’t agree to the judge’s rulings, you are stuck.
So what I tell my clients when it comes to divorce mediation (also known as a collaborative divorce), is if you have something that you both can somewhat agree on or something you both are willing to compromise on, then by all means you should do that.
Here are several mediation techniques to avoid mediation conflict or disputes.
I as my client’s divorce attorney will reach out to the other party’s family law attorney and arrange an informal sit down with all parties and their attorneys and we try and talk through the issues.
Another way is the two divorce attorneys will exchange letters back and forth and come to an agreement via letters.
Another way is through private divorce meditation. You can choose a professional mediator (a meditator does not have to be a divorce attorney) and usually can set a date sooner rather than later. Private mediation usually is quicker to schedule than court-ordered mediation because you are personally paying the mediator. Court order mediation are much cheaper and thus will be slower because there will be more of a wait time.
Can I refuse divorce mediation? Yes and there are definitely times when mediation is not appropriate. Some of these include:
- There is physical/emotional abuse
- Judgment is impaired (i.e. drug/alcohol addiction)
- A spouse is hiding assets
But if none of these things exist then there are several ways to mediate with the other party even if they do not have an attorney. So the examples I’ve been talking about so far are when the other party has an attorney.
So, let’s say neither of you have an attorney, then you can both in some cases if it is not a high-conflict, confrontation divorce or if there is not domestic violence involved, you can meet somewhere like a Starbucks and come up with an agreement.
However, in most cases you will want to use an experienced mediator to work through these issues with you more rationally and less emotionally.
It might also be helpful if money is an issue. You can then use the court’s mediator which will be slower as far as getting your date scheduled but at least you will be getting an experienced mediator and the cost will be less and you will have more change to come out of your divorce with less acrimony.
So to sum up, in my mind ‘settling’ even though you might not get exactly what you wanted, is usually the better option. There is always an aspect of the judge’s ruling that my clients are unhappy with. And while they be happy with one part of the court’s ruling, there is usually a part of the ruling they are not happy with.
So through mediation you are able to keep your case and your family more in your control. You will also suffer less emotional and physical stress for yourself and your children if they are involved. And there will be less likelihood of having to show up in court in the future over possible modification of a decision one of the parties were not happy with,.