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Mediation Is Too Often Overlooked
Although about half of marriages end in divorce, a very small percentage of those divorces are settled using a divorce mediator. Often times, when people think about getting a divorce, they first think about hiring an attorney. While an attorney serves an important role in a divorce by providing legal advice, there are other professionals who can support you through the process, giving you more control, while making the process more efficient at a lower cost. Mediation is a great option worth considering. Listed below are five reasons why divorce mediation could benefit you.
The role of a mediator in a divorce mediation is that of a facilitator. The mediator facilitates the conversation between the two parties, in order to reach a mutually agreeable solution. You do not have to be getting along to use the mediation process. You do not even have to be speaking to each other as the mediator can serve as a go-between for the two parties. The key is that it gives you the opportunity to be directly involved in the process of coming up with an agreement.
Privacy is very important to most of us. Having discussions about every aspect of your personal life can feel invasive regardless of the location but having every detail documented in the courts makes all that information public record. Most of us would prefer to keep our personal information confidential.
3. Saves Time
Working with a mediator can speed up the divorce process as the parties work together to identify mutually agreeable solutions. However, with one of the benefits of mediation being control, it is the divorcing parties who drive the mediation process, determining how long it will take.
Compared to going through two separate attorneys, mediation can save a significant amount of time. One requirement of mediation is that both parties agree to full disclosure. This eliminates the time it takes for discovery motions. Similarly, it eliminates the time spent waiting for attorney communications.
4. Saves Money
The average cost of a divorce in the U.S. is around $20,000 with many paying significantly more while some are fortunate enough to get away with less). Mediators generally charge by the hour and while their fees might be in line with attorney fees, shortening the process saves the parties quite a bit of money. Additionally, while working with the mediator to negotiate a settlement, the parties are usually paying one professional rather than each paying their own attorneys to negotiate their settlement or the most costly route, battling it out in court.
5. Improved Post-Divorce Relationship
Improving your relationship with your soon-to-be ex- might be the last thing on your mind right now. However, if you are going to have to deal with each other in the future, you will be off to a much better start following a divorce mediation than you would be following a contentious litigated divorce. I recognize that there can be a lot of strong emotions when going through a divorce (anger, heartbreak, shame, fear, resentment, etc.). However, divorce is not just the end of a marriage, it is the beginning of the next chapter of your life. Leaving those feelings back with the marriage that has ended will help you to move forward into a more positive mindset.
Before Attempting Mediation, Consider the Following
While divorce mediation is a great option for many, it is not for everyone. If one of the parties does not feel safe participating in mediation for any reason, I would not recommend it. There are some things that a trained mediator can do to balance power during a mediation. However, I don't think that anyone can feel confident in their decisions when in a state of fear.
If you feel that your spouse could be involved with criminal financial activity, I recommend getting a good attorney to make sure you are protecting yourself as much as possible.
Likewise, if you feel like your spouse has not been honest in providing full disclosure, I recommend working with an attorney rather than going through mediation.
Additionally, if one of the parties is mentally incompetent, mediation might not be appropriate. If mediation is attempted under this circumstance, an advocate for the party who is mentally incompetent should be included. The advocate could be a family member, friend, social worker, lawyer, or other trusted professional.
When selecting a mediator, make sure that you choose one with training and experience in divorce mediation, specifically. It can make all the difference.
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