Why Choose Mediation?
Advantages to Mediation
Control – Together you and your spouse have complete control over the manner and timetable in which the agreement is reached. Mediation allows couples to create their own resolution surrounding their separation or divorce in terms that best serve their family and themselves rather than having a stranger in a black robe simply dictating to them legal resolutions with the option of take it or litigate it.
Mediation avoids litigation– Mediation avoids the uncertainty of a judicial outcome. Although mediation doesn’t require the parties to be represented by attorneys, the parties can decide to consult with attorneys to advise them on the legal ramifications of their decisions and options and help guide them on the best possible options for settlement.
Mediation is affordable– The costs can be reduced by the parties paying one person, the mediator, during the course of the negotiations, as well as avoiding costly litigation. You should consult with an attorney throughout the mediation process to be advised of your rights and the rights of your spouse, making certain that you have a full understanding of the resolutions that you are reaching in mediation. Couples that choose mediation spend anywhere from $6,500 to $10,000 to settle their entire divorce whereas this amount is just the starting retainer for couples who choose two lawyers to litigate their case. Mediation costs less because it involves only the mediator rather than two attorneys’ billing time. No attorney can guarantee a court outcome. In litigation, parties are paying for two opposing attorneys to make arguments to the judge based on best-case scenarios and predictions but ultimately it is the judge who decides. So in the end parties pay for extensive billable attorney hours for the vision of ruling that is not predictable.
Mediation reaches resolutions more quickly– Mediation is a great option to quickly resolve situations and reach agreements. The negotiations can occur prior to the filing of any pleadings with the court, allowing the parties to focus on the issues, concerns, and needs while, avoiding the court process. This is because the time that is spent is focused on active negotiations for settlement rather than drafting attacking pleadings and waiting for your case to be heard by the judge.
Confidentiality – Mediation is done in private and the mediator is sworn to protect the parties’ privacy. In court, though the docket may be sealed, the attorneys, the judges, and the courthouse personal are still privy to the parties most painful and personal information.
Communication and Contact– It resolves the issues outside of an adversarial proceeding, and many find the process allows the parties to maintain a healthier relationship during and after the case. In mediation, with the help of the mediator, parties learn better communication skills as they are encouraged to listen and consider the other parties’ point of view. As a result, the parties learn to work together to generate options for problem-solving and open the lines of communication. This establishes a template for future discussions surrounding finance and parenting issues that may arise well after the mediation is over. In litigation parties are set for battle and are not able to listen to the other side when they are in the winner takes all mode. Research shows that couples that meditate are less likely to return to court when parenting or financial issues arise and more likely to return to mediation to resolve any disputes.
Satisfaction– Research shows that couples who choose mediation are more satisfied with the outcome because they have direct control over the decision-making process. Research also shows that couples are more likely to abide by agreements that they have created together rather than return to court to litigate any future disagreements.
Disadvantages to Mediation
Control– If the parties are not able to cooperate in reaching an acceptable resolution then the parties can be left in a standoff and the process can stall without any court interventions available to them to force the matter to move forward. If you opt to attempt mediation prior to commencing litigation, you will lose the financial protections and right to seek “orders” in the litigation as described later on.
Mediation avoids litigation– In a mediation attended by the parties only, the mediator simply serves as a facilitator who does not seek to advance or protect either party’s interest. While this is beneficial in that it may serve to reduce the adversarial nature of the proceeding, your attorney is not directly involved in the negotiating process. If there is an imbalance of power in the couples’ dynamic, there is no judge or master to ensure each party is protected under the law. Also, parties are not able to produce evidence to convince a third party why their position is valid and fairer. A mediator cannot make any judgments to help the parties reach a resolution but can only facilitate a discussion of resolution options available for the parties to consider.
Mediation is affordable– While the cost of a mediator’s services may be less than paying two lawyers, parties may still be required to pay for other costs for professionals such as appraisers, certified divorce financial analysts, accountants as well as mental health professionals, etc. to help them determine the value of their assets and debts and emotional needs of children in order to consider all possible scenarios for settlement. If you and your spouse decide to consult with attorneys to support you during the mediation process, there will be the additional costs of having both attorneys and the mediator involved.
Mediation reaches resolutions more quickly– Mediation only moves at the pace established by the least invested party. If one party is not interested in settling, the process can stall despite the mediator’s prodding.
Confidentiality– While the parties’ information is not shared in the courthouse, there is no independent court mechanism available to ensure that both parties are sharing all the information necessary to ensure a fair and equitable settlement. The financial disclosures made by your spouse will not be subject to the same standard for falsity or omissions as in litigation. There is no ability to compel the discovery of documents or information from the other party or third parties.
Communication and Contact– Some parties are so angry with one another they are unable to communicate or have contact with one another and require an intermediary to do so for them for their own sanity and safety.
Satisfaction– If parties settle matters based on their old functional dynamic and not based on the role modeling of the mediator displayed during mediation, the parties may each leave the table feeling victimized once again as there is no champion or advocate for their cause against the other party present during mediation.
Equitable Distribution and Mediation
A mediator is a neutral facilitator of communication assisting parties in reaching an amicable agreement surrounding the distribution of their marital property. A mediator helps guide parties in the collection of financial documents on which to base their settlement discussions. A mediator might also suggest the use of and work with a certified divorce financial analyst to help the parties consider different division scenarios and their long-term outcomes for each party. A mediator also guides parties in obtaining appraisals to determine the values for marital property such as houses, pensions, retirement accounts and other property of value. The mediator helps parties navigate dividing personal property such as household goods. The mediator may also help the parties calculate a fair amount and length of support for the children and the other party
Support and Mediation
Divorce is not the end of the journey. It’s a long haul until the children are grown or each spouse can move on with their individual lives.
A mediator helps the parties look at everyone’s needs both present and future to determine what amount of support everyone will need to maintain their home and lives going forward.
Mediation facilitates peaceful discussions where everyone’s needs are heard. This allows the spouse to slowly, calmly and methodically plan for everyone’s future in a way that encompasses meeting the needs of the parties and children.
It also sets the stage for the parties to reconvene to peacefully negotiate necessary changes in support if need be if the parties’ needs or financial situations change or as the children grow.
Picture Your Child’s Future
Custody and Mediation
Mediation helps parents focus on the future and not the past. Mediation helps parents focus on the fact that they both love their children and want what is best for them. In the mediation process, parents work together to create a workable parenting plan that allows the children to have healthy functioning relationships with both parents without the children feeling guilty for loving either parent.
Mediation is very cost-effective. It uses one neutral person to help parents reach a fair quick and peaceful settlement to transition their family from one household to two households. With the money that is not spent on litigation, parents can afford to go to family counseling to improve their parenting dynamic to further assist the children in this life transition.
Want to Know More?
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.