In mediation, a neutral professional, or a team of neutral professionals (“Co-Mediation”), assists individuals in co-creating solutions to a dispute. By focusing on interests, goals, and concerns, couples have the tools to create solutions tailored to their unique situation.
Through the mediation process, participants reduce their cost by using experts specialized to meet the goals of the couple. Conversely, during litigation, decisions are handed down by a court.
Through mediation, couples have the opportunity to consider aspects that are often missed or not included in the adversarial process (litigation). Participants have more control over the outcome of their divorce when they mediate.
By sitting down together with a mediator, resolution can be reached more efficiently and quickly. Mediation can be useful when parties are looking for a creative solution regarding the division of assets or debts. Also, discussing a parenting plan and visitation can be best suited for the mediation process.
Finally, when parties are not interested in divorce litigation and want to evaluate all options related to division of assets or the need for support, the mediation process is ideal.
There are times that mediation may not be possible.
Mediated cases provide a streamlined process for resolution. Litigated cases, on the other hand, often take far longer to reach settlement, as they are driven by the court and its availability, thus adding to the overall cost and expenses of a divorce.
With both parties selecting this process, they are jointly invested in the outcome and typically pool resources to avoid the expense of litigation. In turn, they are more likely to find an amicable resolution to their divorce issues.
In the event that they are unable to reach an amicable solution, they can extend their timeline on their own terms, without having to undergo the expensive appeals process.
A flexible schedule is another benefit of the divorce mediation process. While litigated cases are subject to the schedule of the court, divorce mediation sessions can occur at times that are convenient to all parties, including nights and weekends. This avoids the reduced paychecks that can result from lost hours at work.
Studies since the 1970s have consistently shown that divorcing couples who resolved their case through mediation tend to avoid court hearings even when future disagreements arise.
They also recover faster from the emotional trauma of the divorce or separation, tend to have better co-parenting relationships with each other, and often have better relationships with their children as a result when compared with similar cases that were resolved through more adversarial processes.
The savings are not only financial but emotional. The mediation process helps participants to save on future litigation by finding common goals and co-creating solutions.
A mediator will work with a couple to evaluate what will be required to find the answers needed to reach resolution of disputes.
If outside experts are needed, such as a property appraiser, financial neutral, or co-parenting coordinator, the couple can draw from joint resources to jointly retain a neutral who will assist. In litigation, dueling experts are more likely, as well as multiple hours of attorney work.
Through mediation, each party will work with a consulting attorney, but the time and financial impact of this support role is much less than in litigation. Experts in a litigated case will often require months of work and investigation. Documents are not readily provided and ultimately expenses increase.
However, mediation eliminates the need for court and formal discovery. It allows the parties to work in an open and cooperative process with neutrals providing information.
As noted above, mediated cases greatly improve the chance of success for a couple into the future. When parties are empowered with making their own decisions, the likelihood of adhering to those agreements increases greatly.
Further, parties who mediate are more likely to have successful co-parenting relationships. Mediation creates a flexibility for families to work with what they have and come up with creative solutions that are best for them.
The possible agreements are not limited by what the judge would have to order based on the law. Mediated cases allow for parties to come back to the confidential process to review or revise agreements, as needed.
Children grow up and parenting plans need to shift. Earnings may change and support may need to be reviewed. All of these can be easily handled, at a reasonable cost and without delay in mediation. New orders can be drafted further avoiding any need for court involvement.
Mediation is a confidential process allowing an emphasis on each person’s interest more than their positions. When couples choose this process, they are taking ownership of the outcomes.
Most mediations are going to be more cost effective through the use of a neutral mediator, neutral experts, and consulting attorneys.
While the process will work for many, not every situation is right for mediation. At Cage & Miles, LLP we offer a free joint consultation with our attorney mediators for any couple interested in exploring the mediation process.
We understand how the cost of a divorce is a top priority for most, so exploring the best process for you is the best first step. Take our FREE divorce quiz to see if mediation is right for you.