Mediation can be an effective option to come to a fair divorce settlement agreement and can help you avoid the lengthy process of hashing things out in front of a judge. Understanding the difference between using mediation versus going to court can help you understand which option is best for you and your family.
What is Mediation?
A mediator is an independent, neutral third party who helps people involved in a dispute come to a resolution and agreement. In cases of divorce, the mediator’s role is to help both parties identify the issues that need to be resolved, facilitate negotiations and come to an agreement that is acceptable to both spouses. Unlike a court case or arbitration where a judge controls the decision-making process, each spouse has full control over the decisions they make in mediation.
Can a Lawyer Act as a Mediator?
Mediators can be attorneys or other professionals who have experience in helping people resolve disputes. Mediation requires a specific set of skills that many experienced divorce attorneys possess. A mediator who is well-versed in handling divorce negotiations will understand the specific issues that often arise in the divorce process; such as spousal and child support, custody, division of assets and other complex financial matters.
Which Option is Right for You?
If you have no children, few assets and the decision to divorce is mutually amicable, mediation can be an effective and affordable option to help you reach a fair divorce settlement. Each case presents its own unique challenges, so it is best to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable divorce lawyer before you decide whether or not mediation fits your needs. A mediated divorce typically takes less time than a lawyer-facilitated divorce, depending on the spouses’ ability to come to an agreement.
Using a Divorce Attorney
Your attorney represents your interests and acts as your advocate, which is essential in most divorce cases. If issues like custody are being contentious, or your spouse is incapacitated or unable to make sound decisions due to addiction or other problems, an attorney can help you reach an outcome that is not only beneficial to you, but best for your children. If you fear for your safety or domestic violence is involved, mediation is virtually impossible.
Mediation requires both parties to act in good faith. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, acquiring legal representation for your divorce is a must. There are specific procedures that must be followed for full financial disclosure in a divorce to ensure that each party has comprehensive knowledge of the other’s financial circumstances. If collecting information on your spouse’s finances is difficult, your attorney can investigate and obtain it though the discovery process in court. Divorce lawyers who deal with wills can also help you create new estate planning documents that properly reflect your wishes.
Interested in learning more about obtaining legal representation in a divorce? Carosella & Associates can help.