Why Mediation May Be a Good Idea
Increasingly spouses are choosing to mediate their divorce, rather than litigate. The benefits of mediation include:
- Mediation spares you a lot of stress. Divorce litigation is destructive. Frequently spouses try to “win” their case by making the only spouse look “bad.” This approach leaves spouses with an eternal hatred for the other. The permanent fracture to the family hurts the children and grandchildren.
- Mediation is a less expensive. The average divorce costs $15,000 per spouse and can exceed over $100,000. Whereas the average cost to mediate a divorce is between $3-8000 per spouse.
- Mediation takes less time. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your spouse, then you are heading into contested divorce litigation. It will take a year or more to get a trial date. Further, the more complex that your issues are, the more trial time you will need, and the longer it will take to get a date. Whereas if you are successful with mediation and have a written agreement that resolves all matters arising from your marriage, then it is likely that you can get divorced in less than 8 weeks (about 2 months).
Congratulations if you are choosing mediation, it is a wise decision.
Remember that a mediator will not advise you of your rights…they simply cannot do that.
Preparation is critical to your success during mediation. Here are the top 6 things to remember and prepare for…
- Learn what your rights are. It is imperative that you are aware of the laws regarding the division of financial assets, retirement assets, the family home, investments, personal property, and so forth. You should know what marital property is, and that marital property is subject to division between you and your spouse. Conversely, you should know what property is not marital. You should have a clear understanding about how retirement assets are divided between spouses. You should be aware of the rules regarding the family home if there are minor children.
- Be keenly familiar with all the assets owned by you and your spouse and have a general understanding about which assets are marital and which are nonmarital. This data should be put on a spreadsheet and the values should be totaled.
- Just like the assets, the liabilities resulting from the marriage should be identified and listed on a spreadsheet. Liabilities include credit card debts, student loans, other loans, the mortgage and tax liabilities. It is important to know who is legally responsible for these debts, and how debt may affect the division of assets.
- Do you or your spouse own a business? If a business was created during the marriage, then it is critical that the business be valued prior to mediation.
- If one spouse is financially dominant, then alimony may be an issue. Whether you want alimony or are concerned that you may be stuck paying alimony, it is important to be knowledgeable about what a reasonable alimony expectation is, in both amount and duration.
- Child Custody and Support. Issues involving children are the most difficult and expensive issues to resolve. You should be prepared with a schedule detailing who the children will be with on what days, how summer vacation will be handled, and how holidays will be divided or shared. Compromises involving children are the most difficult.
The attorneys at Pare & Associates have more than 50 years of experience in domestic litigation. We routinely prepare clients for mediation with tremendous success. If you are considering divorce and would like to learn about mediation, call us for a consultation.
We can help you decide what approach will be most cost effective for your circumstances. If you have started the mediation process, but have questions about what a fair agreement is, we can still help you evaluate what a fair result would be.