Ten Reasons To Try Divorce Mediation
You've decided to seek a divorce. Your nerves are frayed; the in-laws
are asking pointed questions; the children are beginning to act out; and
your pleasantness is in the midst of an earthshaking landslide. What can
you do? Clearly, you can hire a divorce attorney to serve your spouse
with a Summons and Complaint for divorce. Or you could talk to your spouse
and try to get your spouse's agreement to try divorce mediation. Here's
a checklist of reasons why working with a trained divorce mediator can
1. It usually costs less.
When both spouses meet with one Divorce Mediator they can share the cost,
which is commonly $2,500 to $4,000. This will usually include preparation
of the papers necessary to file for the uncontested divorce once an agreement
is reached by the parties. If the spouses were to retain separate attorneys
to represent them in a contested divorce, each would be paying an initial
retainer of between $2,500 and $10,000 just to get started!
2. You have control.
In Divorce Mediation the couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions
are made, when the divorce Complaint is filed, and what the terms of the
divorce will be in the Marital Settlement Agreement. Each step is by agreement,
in contrast to the adversarial process in which attorneys set court dates
and judges make decisions with very limited time and information.
3. Paperwork is done for you.
Many people try to do their own divorces these days, but run into difficulty
trying to understand the laws and the complex paperwork involved. A mediator
who is an attorney can explain the entire process to the parties, and
prepare a proposed Marital Settlement Agreement.
4. Easier on the children.
The worst aspect of a divorce for children is the conflict between the
parents. It will be traumatic enough for them, but they can heal knowing
that their parents are working together to make adult decisions and will
not put them in the middle.
5. You can still go to court.
When people use divorce mediation, they do not give up their right to
go to court. If you are not satisfied in mediation, you can stop at any
time, retain a separate attorney and have the judge decide the issues.
What has occurred in mediation will remain confidential, so the parties
can start fresh.
6. You get legal information.
In divorce mediation with an attorney-mediator, you will be provided
with enough legal information to make your own decisions about what is
fair. While an attorney acting in the role of mediator cannot advise either
party, the attorney can share his or her general knowledge of how the
court might address the issues in your case. Each spouse is also encouraged
to consult with a separate attorney for legal advice, especially before
signing a Marital Settlement Agreement.
7. Emotions can be managed.
Many people simply want to be heard and understood in the divorce process.
However, on their own this can get out of control, as each person triggers
anger and resentment in the other - often unintentionally. A mediator
trained in counseling can assist the parties in acknowledging feelings
but not allowing feelings to control the decision-making process.
8. It's confidential.
In private divorce mediation, all discussions and tentative agreements
are confidential. This makes it safe to propose solutions for possible
consideration without having them all thought out. This can lead to new
solutions neither party had previously considered. Moreover, if either
spouse has worked "off the books" during the marriage, the parties
can be up front about this fact with the divorce mediator since, unlike
a Judge who usually has an ethical obligation to report the unreported
income to State and Federal taxing authorities, a divorce mediator is
under no such ethical obligation to report the unreported income to the
IRS or State income tax bureau.
9. It builds on the positive.
The way your marriage ends will significantly impact the way you approach
your future relationships. When you use a mediator to help both of you
communicate and make important decisions, it can be easier to move forward
and accept the past, rather than turning hurt and anger into an expensive
court battle. In mediation, both parties are encouraged to recognize the
positive in the other person and to find common ground for agreement.
In court, each side must emphasize the negative about the other person
in order to "win" against the other. Especially when there will
be future contact between the parties, such as in parenting, whatever
goodwill remains between the parties should be preserved and not destroyed!
10. IT’S UP TO YOU, NOT A JUDGE!
Whatever you decide, you can know that it was up to you and not a Judge
ordering you to accept what he/she thinks is reasonable for your situation.