We are now offering divorce mediation services at Jacoby & Meyers. Mediation is a rapidly growing area of divorce law due to its ability to create more creative agreements that save both parties a great deal of time and money as well as peace of mind.
While mediation is an excellent alternative to divorce litigation, it is not for everyone. It is important to be well-informed about both options so that you can make the right choice for you, your spouse, and your family.
Pros of Mediation
Mediation works best for couples who want to talk through their issues together and work amicably to reach a mutually beneficial solution. For most couples, it produces a better divorce agreement and better custody and parenting arrangements.
The following are some of the advantages of mediating your divorce:
- The divorcing couple retains control of the process. In mediation, you and your spouse will sit down and work out all of the terms of your agreement in a cooperative manner with the help of your mediator. The only people involved in the decision-making process will be you and your spouse. If you choose to litigate, you are at the mercy of the decision of a judge who barely knows you and your situation.
- Timely and cost-effective. Mediation generally takes much less time due to the cooperative nature of the process. It saves a great deal of money in reduced legal fees and expenses, eliminates the expense and delay of court, eliminates the use of expensive and time-consuming depositions, and avoids the need to hire forensic psychologists to perform evaluations on both parties and their children for the purpose of making a custody award. Even when there are complicated finances involved, any outside experts hired will work for both of you, to provide answers, not to fuel litigation.
- The agreement is more flexible. You have much more freedom to get creative in your divorce agreement when it is mediated. Each party can evaluate the issues that are most important to him/her and design a settlement that reflects these desires. You can creatively craft custody agreements that are in the best interest of the children and that accommodate the busy schedules of both parents.
- The process fosters and improves the communication skills of the participants. Because the mediator is trained to facilitate communication and understanding, both spouses generally leave the process with a clear framework of how to carry out future dialogue in their post-divorce lives. This is especially important when there are young children involved, since both parents will need to be in frequent contact regarding parenting issues. The cooperative nature of the process enables both parties to maintain a positive relationship after the divorce.
Cons of Mediation
Mediation is not ideal for all circumstances. In general, mediation is less likely to work in the following situations:
- There is a great deal of animosity in the relationship. Couples who cannot sit down and try to talk in a peaceful and constructive manner will experience a great deal of difficulty in the mediation process. Our mediators are trained to assist with conflict and arguments, but you need to be willing to try to cooperate in order for mediation to work for you.
- There is a history of violence or abuse in the relationship. If one spouse has been abused or is intimidated by the other, it reduces the likelihood that a mediated agreement will be fair and equitable for both parties. The abused party may have difficulty advocating for him/herself during this process.
- One or both parties have hidden assets. If either party has hidden assets, it will complicate the division of marital property. If forensic accountants are required to ascertain the true value of one party’s assets, litigation will most likely be unavoidable.