Most divorcing couples attempt mediation at some point in the divorce process. This involves meeting with a trained neutral to try to come to an agreement with which both parties can live. You can attend mediation with or without attorneys, but if you do so without, you should have an attorney look over the proposed agreement before you sign it.
Although it is not appropriate in all cases, participating in mediation does offer many benefits.
Mediation is voluntary
The mediation process is voluntary and you cannot be compelled to reach an agreement if you do not believe it is acceptable. You always retain the right to go to court if mediation is unsuccessful. That said, research suggests that over 50% of divorce cases entering mediation are able to resolve at least some issues.
Mediation offers more control
Mediation offers you and your spouse the opportunity to craft your own agreement, rather than leaving it up to a judge to decide what happens to you, your children, and your assets. Judges do their best, but they make decisions based on relatively limited information. You know your family’s situation better than does the judge. In addition, you are able to enter into agreements that go beyond what a judge could otherwise order.
Mediation can save money
Divorce is never cheap, but going to court is especially expensive. Even if you only resolve a portion of the issues in mediation, the overall cost savings can be significant.
Mediation moves at your pace
Once the court is involved, you are subject to its calendar. Judges are overworked and it can take significant time to go through the divorce process, including making several trips to court. Depending on your case, it could easily be a year or more before you are actually divorced. On the other hand, there will also be court-imposed deadlines that you will be required to meet, regardless of your particular schedule. Mediation, in contrast, can move as quickly or slowly as the parties agree. Once an agreement has been reached, a decree can be drafted, filed, and entered relatively quickly.
Mediation is based on collaboration
A trial is an adversarial process; each side presents it’s best case and attempts to undermine the other side. Because of this, trials tend to exacerbate conflict between the parties. Mediation, in contrast, puts an emphasis on working together to find common ground and rewards compromise. In most instances, this makes it easier to reduce hostility and maintain relationships after divorce. This can be especially important if children are involved.
Mediation is confidential
Court hearings are typically open to the public, which means that anyone can sit in and watch the proceedings. Mediation, on the contrary, is confidential, unless the parties agree otherwise. This means that your nosy neighbor can't listen in. It also means that you can make and consider settlement offers without worrying about them being raised later in court. As an added bonus, Mediators may be able to offer alternatives that you hadn’t considered.
To discuss mediation, or any family law issue, call Kruse Family Law PLLC at 612.231.9865, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.