Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation
Mediation can be an empowering way to end a marriage. Both parties typically get what they need, if not always what they want. However, mediation is not for everyone. Generally speaking, if you both got along and were able to communicate on some, if not most issues during your marriage, then you may be a good candidate for mediation. However, mediation, when not done by an experienced mediator, can turn into just another stall tactic, causing you to spin your wheels for years without making any real progress.
How Do I Know If Mediation Is Right for Me?
In order for mediation to be effective, both parties have to enter into the process intending to act in good faith, to be open about their assets and debts, and to be willing to work together to reach an agreement both parties can accept.
Both parties need to be willing and able to concede on some issues.
Mediation is not a good option if there is an imbalance of power in the relationship, or if one party is hostile, threatening or intimidating to the other. Mediation is never appropriate where there has been domestic violence of any kind.
Pros of Divorce Mediation
Faster, Cheaper, More Personalized Resolutions. We are experienced trial attorneys. We know how expensive an adversarial divorce is. Successful mediation is a fraction of the cost of any litigated divorce. The average, not heavily litigated divorce case in our office can take about 2 years to complete and costs about $20,000 per party. Need to go to trial? Add another year to that. Mediation can have you Done In A Day. Want to know more about our One Day Solution? Check out our Done in a Day Divorce service.
Let’s face it, divorce itself is expensive. Paying out of pocket for attorneys to go back and forth generally depletes community funds – the funds that you are trying to preserve! Whenever you add in the costs for going to court about any particular issue, costs can get out of hand quickly and you only control one-half of how the case proceeds in court. The other half is controlled by the other party and their attorney.
Preserve your Relationship. We recognize that often, both parties want or need to be able to talk civilly in the future. If you have children together, both parties’ lives will be much easier if you can continue to communicate and work together amicably after the divorce. Often, parties choose to divorce not because they no longer love each other, but because they have grown apart. Mediation is an opportunity to preserve the love and trust you both still have, while still creating an agreement that allows you both to move on.
More Control Over the Outcome. When couples empower themselves to come up with an agreement that both can accept, it allows both parties to move on, both emotionally and legally. Couples who reach settlement are less likely to have to relitigate issues that were subject to a court order that was ill-defined or not workable for them. A court can only make limited orders, but parties in mediation can come up with myriad creative ways to settle disputes legally, but in ways that also work for them.
Do you need more time to buy the other spouse out of their share of the house? You likely won’t get that in court.
Do you need time to pay off some of the debts? You won’t get that, either.
Do you want both parties to contribute to college costs? No court can make that order.
But you can create a settlement that provides legally binding and enforceable terms that work for you to address all of these issues and more.
Help Identifying the Issues. Sometimes the results you think you want may not be the best solution. Do you want to cash out your 401(k) to pay off the other spouse? Whoa! Not so fast! There are tax implications to that!
Our mediators can help you see issues that you may not know exist or dispel any fears that may be unfounded. We can also provide solutions that you may not have considered. Most important, mediators can help you put language in place that a court will accept and enforce.
Cons of Divorce Mediation
You Have to Speak Up For Yourself. Mediators are not mind readers. We don’t know what you really want, what you really need, or even what the biggest issue is for you unless you tell us. Mediation is a collaborative process where both parties need to feel comfortable asserting what they want in a safe environment. If you are not comfortable advocating for yourself, you may consider having an attorney represent you. Most attorneys will go to mediation with you, some attorneys will only go to mediation with you but will not file anything with the court. It is important that you feel heard and that you are part of the solution created in mediation, and sometimes, you just are not ready to stand on your own.
More Expensive Than Do-It-Yourself Services. There are a lot of wonderful online options for do-it-yourself divorces. Online options work well if you don’t have unique or complex issues, and most even offer support with preparing the piles of paperwork that are needed in a divorce. Online options all have their limits, though, and sometimes, people just want to engage with a human being. Mediation is more expensive than online options, but also provides more creative, tailored solutions, personal feedback, and more accountability than an online forum.
You Have to Be Able To Choose Let Go. Often the biggest hurdle to a successful and final resolution is one party’s inability to move on. Often, spouses need someone, usually a judge, to validate their feelings of having been wronged. Mediation is not about vindication, validation, or justice. Mediation is about closure. We are not there to take sides – being impartial is the hallmark of a good mediator.
Are you looking for someone to validate your feelings about how terribly you were treated by the other side? That is not a mediator’s role, and quite frankly, you won’t get that in court, either.
Mediation is about moving on, not about validation. If you are not ready to emotionally move on without external validation of your feelings, you are not ready for mediation.