Is Divorce Mediation Right for Me?
When going through a divorce, there are essentially two different paths you can take. The first is to hire an attorney and file a complaint with the court. Presumably, your spouse will also hire an attorney, and each of you will most likely have to pay those retainers up front. Motions will be filed, arguments will be made in court, you will each be looking to demonize the other party to show to the judge why your position is correct, and next thing you know you’re getting that uncomfortable phone call from your lawyer asking you to replenish your retainer and you aren’t even close to a resolution in your case.
The second option is divorce mediation. I am a firm believer that mediation is almost always the better alternative when going through a divorce. There are a few reasons for this. First, the cost of a mediated divorce is typically going to be significantly lower than filing a complaint. As an example, our average mediated divorce in our office takes three to five sessions. Even taking the high end of the average, and adding the costs for the preparation of all of the documents required by the court, we have been able to save our clients 40% on the cost of our standard starting retainer. If you factor in the retainer your spouse is paying, those savings increase to approximately 70%. When the divorce is done, clients typically prefer to have any money left from the marriage stay in their own pockets as opposed to their lawyer’s. Mediation will greatly increase the odds of that happening.
I have also found that when spouses can sit and discuss their issues with a neutral third party to come to a resolution, they are more likely to resolve their issues more expeditiously and more amicably. Even more important, the parties tend to be much more likely to follow both the words and the spirit of their agreement after the divorce. This is especially important when children are involved. Speaking with a psychologist friend of mine, she once mentioned to me it is always best for the children to see that mom and dad are still able to work with each other and communicate as opposed to always being at each other’s throats. It provides more stability and consistency for the children, which is what they need after their parents go through a divorce.
Mediation does not have to be limited to divorce either. In our office, we provide mediation services for divorces, modifications of child support, parenting time and custody issues, alimony, and college education choices and costs for the children. If you have a family law issue, mediation can almost always be a viable option for you.
When going through a divorce, and asking yourself, “Is mediation right in my situation,” you need to evaluate your particular situation. Are the efficiency and cost-effectiveness benefits of mediation important to you? Are you looking for an agreement that is fair for both you and your spouse? Are you and your spouse, despite the anxiety, anger, frustration, and other feelings that come up during a divorce, able sit in the same room with each other and still have amicable discussions? If you are able to answer yes to each of these questions, divorce mediation may be a good option for you. Of course, the best way to know if divorce mediation is right for you is to consult with a mediator and ask questions that are specific to your particular situation. The answers to those questions will usually help guide you as you make your decision.