What if you could short circuit your way to a resolution without bleeding yourself dry of funds? This is possible and in the right circumstances can be accomplished in mediation. In mediation, a neutral third-party facilitates conversations between spouses to assist in making decisions regarding the dissolution of the marriage. In this non-adversarial process, the parties and the mediator identify issues, discuss them in order to evaluate their options, and make decisions that are right for the couple and their family.
Mediation is by no means easy; you and your spouse are charged with rolling up your sleeves and coming to an agreement, but the benefits can be extraordinary. In mediation, instead of you and your spouse each paying a lawyer to duke it out in court for you, you can collectively pay a mediator to assist you in collaboratively coming to an agreement. This is not to say that you will emerge unscathed by legal fees; many mediators require each party to have their own consulting attorney to act as their advisor throughout the process, but the fees will be significantly less. Instead of paying to lawyer, you and your spouse are able to communicate these wants and needs directly with the help of a neutral third-party. This dynamic often leads to compromise that would not otherwise be possible and thus brings about a resolution faster and more cost effectively.
While I am an advocate of mediation, mediation is not right for every couple or family. Where domestic violence is present or where one person has always been overpowered by the other, mediation may not be a safe or productive option. I often advise clients to analyze their relationship dynamic when considering mediation. If you cannot stand up to your spouse, then mediation may not be advantageous for you. However, even in those instances, if litigation can be avoided, it should be, at all costs. Pun intended.
It is often said that the only real winner in a divorce is the lawyer because of the ballooning legal fees in litigated divorces. There are multiple options to choose from when proceeding with a divorce, yet most couples believe they must head straight to court. This is by no means the best or most advantageous decision. While you may want your “day in court” to prove who is at fault, that “day in court” will cost you and few people are truly satisfied with the results.
Most divorces, even the highly contentious ones, settle prior to trial. The ones that do make it through trial rarely deliver the results that litigants desire, providing them with an outcome that is the same or worse than if it had been dealt with outside of the courtroom. In my practice, I saw time and time again people anxious to tell their side of the story and get “justice” only to stop just short of trial with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in anticipation for a trial that never came to fruition.