Imagine you have started working with a divorce attorney and you like the strategy you have developed so far. You are looking forward to having your proverbial day in court to argue your case.
And then, your soon-to-be ex-spouse throws a wrench in your plans by demanding mediation. Does this throw all your plans out the window?
The short answer is no. You can still work on your strategy. You can still work with your attorney. In fact, you should be represented by an attorney in mediation.
Mediation is a method of resolving legal disputes. It is an alternative to traditional litigation.
In mediation, two parties to a dispute hire a neutral third party to facilitate their negotiations. The third party, known as the mediator, is not a judge. The mediator does not decide any of the issues. Instead, their role is to help the two parties work toward a resolution.
In a divorce, this resolution means having the spouses agree to the terms of their divorce settlement. Once they agree, they sign a binding contract.
Pros and cons
There are some great advantages to mediation in divorce. For one thing, it minimizes or avoids court fees and other costs associated with going to trial. For another, it’s typically much quicker than going to trial. Indeed, many overbooked judges recommend that spouses go to mediation simply as a way to reduce the court’s caseload.
Yet another advantage is that, by resolving their issues themselves, mediation gives divorcing spouses a greater degree of control over their outcomes than they would have if they left the decision-making up to a judge.
Mediation also tends to reduce the ugliness and lingering bitterness that are so common during and after divorce. This can be a very valuable advantage for divorcing parents who have young children.
However, mediation is not a good solution for every couple or every divorce. It’s particularly ill-suited in cases involving abuse, or where one spouse has a domineering personality.
Help with mediation
Another possible disadvantage of mediation is that it can mean a lot of work.
Because divorce mediation asks the parties to resolve their own legal and financial issues, it sometimes means spouses who have no special training in these matters must decide some complicated questions.
The good news about this is that you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you should not do it alone. Each party in divorce mediation should be represented by their own attorney. Experienced attorneys help their clients to build a strategy so that they know what their goal will be in mediation, and they continue to advise them throughout the negotiations.