10 Divorce Mediation Q&As
Divorce is not easy, but it also does not have to be the nightmare you are likely envisioning. While we have all heard horror stories about long, drawn out divorces that consumed the couple's assets and left them infinitely angry at each other, this is not every story. Ultimately, you are in control of your own course of action and you can choose a very different storyline for your divorce. Many couples are surprised to learn that they do not even have to go to court in order to get a divorce. By using divorce mediation, couples may be able to save money, expedite the divorce process, remain on amicable terms, and avoid ever having to set foot in a courtroom. So what is divorce mediation? We will get into that more below.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process by which a neutral third-party who is trained in conflict resolution and has knowledge of divorce law, leads two spouses in resolving all issues standing in between them are the divorce that they are seeking. This involves the division of assets and debt, child custody issues such as custody, visitation, and creation of a parenting plan, and spousal support. Couples can retain lawyers to represent their interests and negotiate for them, or handle the negotiations on their own and consult with an attorney if needed. Once mutually agreeable terms for the divorce have been settled on, they will be drafted into a divorce agreement. At this point, both parties can have attorneys review the agreement, and, if acceptable, it will be submitted to the court for approval.
Who is a Divorce Mediator?
Divorce mediators come from a wide range of backgrounds and sets of experiences. Some are retired judges and others are licensed family law attorneys or social workers. You can choose a mediator who meets your needs and with whom you feel comfortable. The divorce mediator will be trained in conflict resolution and in various techniques designed to help guide you and your spouse to mutually agreeable terms.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
Whereas divorces that are litigated through the court system can take months or even years depending on the size of the estate, the complexity of the issues to be resolved, and the degree of contempt and litigation between the spouses, divorce mediation can usually be resolved within a few sessions which each only last a matter of hours. The sessions are usually spaced out over a few weeks in order to give both parties time to process, consult with counsel, and obtain all necessary information. Most couples find that this process saves them significant time as compared to a traditional divorce process.
Will Divorce Mediation Save Me Money?
Some studies show that divorce mediation can save you up to eight times as compared to a traditional divorce. This is because divorce mediation allows you to avoid all litigation and courtroom time, which lawyers generally charge their highest rates for. Divorce mediators charge a much lower hourly rate as compared to attorneys, and attorneys charge a lower rate for consulting and attending mediations than they do to litigate in court. Mediation also gives you and the other party the ultimate amount of control over how assets are distributed, which can also have a significant value.
Should I Hire a Divorce Mediator or an Attorney?
The good news is that you do not have to choose between in divorce lawyer and a divorce mediator. A lawyer and a mediator fulfill different roles in the divorce process, and often both are necessary. You can consult with a divorce attorney and they can recommend a divorce mediator and accompany you to meetings or consult with you throughout the process and review your drafted divorce agreement before it is submitted to the court for approval to ensure that it is equitable and represents your interests. If divorce mediation fails, you can then go to court with your lawyer. You will not be required to find new counsel.
Are There Divorces That are too Complicated for Divorce Mediation?
There are no divorces that are too complicated for divorce mediation. Although mediation is an excellent option for couples with limited assets and no children who would like to dissolve their marriage as quickly as possible, it is also a great option for parties who have complex and large estates and who wish to keep all information related to their divorce confidential. Divorce mediation is tailored to the needs of the parties involved. In the case of a large and complex estate, additional experts, such as forensic accountants and tax experts, can be involved to ensure that both parties have full and complete information. Of course, the more complicated the case, the more sessions may be required, but this will still likely result in a much shorter process than going to court as you have several experts who are all solely focused on resolving your case.
What Happens if Divorce Mediation Does Not Work?
It is uncommon that parties do not make any progress at all in divorce mediation. However, it may happen that even after undergoing mediation, some issues cannot be amicably resolved. The good news is that in this case you do not need to start over, you can simply draft the terms that you have agreed to and submit them to the court for approval. Any additional terms that you were not able to agree to will then be left to the court to rule on. In that sense, any progress made in mediation is still beneficial, even if it does not result in a total dissolution of your marriage.
Are there Situations in Which Divorce Mediation Should Not be Used?
While there are not cases that are too complex for divorce mediation, there are cases where it may not be the most appropriate method or in the best interest of the parties. For instance, in situations where there is a history of fraud or money laundering by one spouse, or a history of domestic violence, divorce mediation is likely not the best choice.
If My Spouse and I Cannot Agree on Anything, is it Pointless to Try Divorce Mediation?
Many couples who have never had much luck coming to agreements are reluctant to try mediation, but chances are they have not had a neutral third-party to help them before. The mediator does not take sides and works to ensure that both parties are heard and have their needs addressed. Both parties also have a vested interest in saving money and reaching a resolution in the divorce as quickly as possible, which can help support the process.
What Does the Divorce Mediator Do?
The divorce mediator is a neutral third-party. They do not take sides, which is possible because they are not responsible for making any judgments or decisions. The couple arrives at their own decision, facilitated by the divorce mediator, which can then be reviewed by their attorney before being approved by a judge.
Contact Asa Pitt Mediation
If you are considering divorce or are interested in using divorce mediation, contact Asa Pitt Mediation in Los Angeles, California to schedule a consultation today.