Save Money, Time, and Sanity, while Preserving Your Peace of Mind
Getting divorced can conjure images of attorneys fighting, billable hours, and a public court room battle. In some cases, this can be true. However, there is always another option available - mediation.
While mediation is not right in every case we see, it can be an important tool to use. Further, it will almost always be required by a Judge when a divorce case eventually makes it to court. At Lauren Smith Legal Services, we act as both a third-party mediator as well as the attorney representing one side of a mediation (our client's). With over a decade of experience, we've seen it all!
In the following sections, we highlight the 4 major reasons why mediation can be a better solution than a litigated divorce.
In almost all cases, mediating a divorce will cost significantly less than the same case going to trial. While a litigated divorce can take over a year in some cases (see the next point below), mediations can be completed in only a day. While you do add the hourly cost of a mediator, the total billable hours is likely to be substantially reduced.
Today's litigation process can take months, if not years to complete, with the average case taking 12 – 18 months. Generally, as you near the end of the litigation process, the Judge will order a mediation attempt anyways. It is almost always worth your time to attempt a mediation, in the hopes that your case can be resolved in days rather than months.
When divorces go to trial, they are ultimately decided by a Judge. Given the time constraints and inherent limitations of the litigation process, Judges are far more likely to create orders based on standard practices. With a mediated solution, an endless number of customized outcomes are possible.
For example, if your family's annual summer vacation is always the 2nd week of July, that is something very easy to add in a mediated parenting plan. In a trial, a Judge will likely not allow (or have the time for) this much customization.
In trial, the only tool a Judge has is a sledgehammer. But in mediation, we can use a chisel.
When Mediation Isn't the Right Solution
We are firm believers in the power of mediation. However, there are certain instances where an attempted mediation is not the right solution.
Domestic Violence or Large Imbalance of Power
In cases of domestic violence, or where large imbalances of power exist, mediation is a non-starter. As we discuss in the next point, mediation is dependent on negotiating from a perspective of mutual respect and good faith. When one party is dominated by the other, mediation will not work.
An Unwillingness to Negotiate
Mediation is rooted in open negotiation. However, if one or both parties refuse to participate, than a mediation will be fruitless. For example, both parents want to be the primary custodial parent, and refuse to budge on this issue. Other "red lines" can appear related to religion, education, and home location.
We have decades of experience in helping couples resolve their divorce in a fair and balanced way. However, it takes all parties pulling together to ultimately reach a settlement.
Mediation is an important consideration in any divorce process. By using a trusted advisor or mediator, many couples can save substantial time and money, while ultimately ending with a more customized solution. However, not all divorces can benefit from mediation. It is important to speak with an experienced and certified mediator to help you understand your options.