There are many difficult decisions to be made once a married couple decides to divorce. One of the most important choices couples make is whether to litigate or mediate the termination of their marriage. Concerning cost divorce mediation is the cheapest method of obtaining any divorce settlement, including a mediation divorce settlement.
Divorce mediation is becoming a popular method of choice for couples who are trying to avoid costly court battles and who wish to keep control over property division and custody arrangements. Oftentimes, in a litigated divorce, a couple can spend thousands of dollars in attorney's fees and, at best, have limited input over the outcome. A judge will ultimately be the one who decides what to do with the house, bank accounts, pensions and children.
In contrast to a litigated divorce, mediation can offer the same protections that attorney-assisted divorces offer, but with the added advantage of a non-adversarial process that puts the couple in control of what happens. Studies have shown that mediated agreements are more likely to be honored by the parties involved than litigated settlements.
Couples choose a mediator who helps them negotiate and determine how best to divide their financial assets and debts, as well as make critical decisions regarding their children. The mediator, who acts as a neutral third party, helps the couple come to fair and informed agreements on all outstanding issues. All mediated discussions are private and scheduling is left up to the couple.
Mediators ensure that the interests of both spouses are addressed and each side has the chance to voice his or her opinions and concerns. Couples are allowed to work out their settlement based entirely on their needs and their children's needs, not on blame or fault.
Mediation is not a counselling service. It is not intended to resolve past conflicts but, rather, focus attention toward figuring out what each spouse wants for his or her future life. While divorce litigation tends to fuel the hurt and anger, mediation facilitates communication and enables the couple to respect, accept, understand, and move on. This process results in neither spouse feeling like a victim. Both parties leave mediation knowing that they have reached the best possible arrangement for themselves and their children, and that their financial assets have been divided equitably.
Depending on the complexity of the mediation and the going rate for mediation in the region where the couple lives, it often costs only 5-10% of the average total cost of a litigated divorce. The couple will normally pay a fee to the mediator and then a filing fee to the court.
The couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions are made, and what the terms of the divorce will be. In contrast to a litigated divorce where the Domestic Relations Court sets hearing dates and judges make all final decisions, in mediation the couple comes to mutual agreement on all of the terms of the divorce.
A trained mediator assists the couple in acknowledging each other's feelings without allowing emotions to control the decision-making process. Mediation recognizes that each spouse wants to be heard and understood in the divorce process.
Choosing mediation does not negate a couple's right to go to court. Any issue that is not resolved through mediation can always be addressed separately in court. Any arrangements reached in mediation are still documented by the mediator and used by the couple when finalizing their divorce.
If you would like to learn more about the mediation process, contact Duffy & Associates or a knowledgeable Divorce Mediator.