I’m a divorce lawyer and mediator. As a lawyer, I handle both contested and uncontested divorce. A “contested” divorce just means that 1 or both parties seek court intervention. An “uncontested” divorce means that the parties were able to reach a settlement agreement without seeking court intervention. In either context, couples can decide to use a mediator. Here are a few of the reasons why I support mediation with divorces:
1 – Autonomy- Who wants to leave their life in the hands of a courtroom that doesn’t know you? The longer I practice law, the more that I realize that, at the end of the day, litigation is a calculated risk. Nobody really knows for sure what a judge will decide. Mediation gives parties the chance to make their own decisions about their lives.
2 – People Have To Work Through Their Emotions Before They Can Talk Settlement – Not surprisingly, divorces are emotional. Hurt feelings. Anger. Betrayal. Distrust. Secrets. Insecurities. Divorces brings it all out on the table. As a divorce litigator and mediator, I have found that parties to a divorce action have to work through their emotions before they can talk divorce settlement. Hurt feelings about adultery might need to be dealt with before the parties can decide how to split the 401K. Anger that one spouse walked out on the other might need to be confronted before spouses can sit down and talk about a parenting schedule that would work for both of them. Mediation allows people to work through those emotions.
3- Can Pick Your Own Pace- Once you are in the divorce litigation process, the court picks the pace for you. In mediation, the pace is up to both parties. The parties can move through the divorce mediation process as quickly or slowly as they decide (not the court).
4- Mending Family Relationships – Divorces are a law suit. There is a Plaintiff and a Defendant. Like many other law suits, once people go to war in the courtroom, it is not reasonable that the parties will have a good relationship with one another. Now, can you imagine co-parenting with someone you just want to war with in the courtroom? I believe that litigation can ruin a family relationship. Parties with children who are getting divorced should strongly consider mediation.
5- Financial Disclosure- Litigation is not the only method to get financial disclosure. Although financial disclosure is voluntary in the mediation context vs. court-ordered, the parties can still get their questions answered. Oftentimes, one or both parties do not have a clear understanding of the true financial picture of their partner.
Do you have a mediation “success story?” I would love to hear about what you liked and didn’t like about the divorce mediation process.
"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."