7 Ways Divorce Mediation Can Save Time, Money, and Your Relationship with Your Children
Mediation is the process where an attorney or third-party neutral help you and your spouse resolve various issues without going to court. Issues include child support, child custody, spousal support, and division of property.
If you and your spouse choose to litigate, a judge will determine the outcome of these issues. You will likely spend hours battling in court. You may stress about how the judge will decide each issue, and you will likely spend an immense amount of money on an attorney. Even after all of the time and money you put into litigation, you may receive an unfavorable outcome.
Mediation helps eliminate the stresses and costs associated with litigation. You and your spouse become the decision makers, and a trained mediator helps you make the best decisions for your particular case.
Mediation can range from $3,000 to $7,000. Going to court for a short appearance may cost you thousands of dollars. Between attorney travel time, and waiting for your case to be called, the more time you spend in court, the more money you’ll have to pay. There are various benefits to mediation, including saving time, money, and stress. Mediation can help reduce these by shortening the time it takes to obtain a divorce.
1. Both spouses hire one mediator or third- party neutral.
By hiring only one third-party neutral, instead of two attorneys, spouses will save money. However, there’s always the option to hire an attorney if you feel as though your needs are not being properly represented by the neutral third-party. If you and your spouse agree to select one mediator, you won’t need to pay separate attorneys hourly. Instead, you pay a single mediator, cutting costs in half.
You can also reduce the time it takes to obtain a divorce in half. Because you work around your schedules’ instead of the court’s, you choose how long it takes to get a divorce. If you and your spouse can agree in one or two meetings, you can obtain a divorce in just under two months. If you litigate, you will likely spend a significantly longer time trying to obtain a divorce.
Because you only work with one mediator, it’s much easier to coordinate schedules. Instead of working with five schedules (yours, your spouse’s, your attorney’s, your spouse’s attorney’s, and the court’s schedule), you only coordinate meetings around three schedules. This allows you to obtain a divorce in less time because you can likely easily schedule meetings.
2. Discovery is informal.
Discovery is informal and conducted in the process of mediation. You and your spouse choose which documents become part of the public record. Because discovery is informal, you won’t have to wait for your spouse to turn over documents. Instead, you can work together to determine what needs to become part of the public record.
The divorce mediation process ensures confidentially. Mediation keeps the details of your divorce private. You won’t have to worry about others gaining access to the intimate details of your marriage and divorce. Because the discovery process is informal, it can be done much faster than the normal litigation process.
3. You can obtain a divorce during the coronavirus outbreak.
The mediation process can begin before any pleadings are filed with the court. Pleadings are filed only after a settlement is reached. Therefore, you won’t need to delay your divorce.
If you choose to litigate, you can file, but there will be a delay in getting the pleadings back. Mediation can be done without filing. If you litigate, a judge will determine your custody arrangement. If you mediate, you and your spouse will create the terms in the agreement.
Litigation involves both spouses hiring their own attorneys. If the case goes to trial, you’ll likely spend months, sometimes years, battling in a courtroom. Not only will you spending money on your attorney, but you’ll also likely need to take time off from work. Lawyers typically charge anywhere from $200 to $500 per hour for a divorce.
4. You have the option to reach an agreement virtually.
During the coronavirus, many attorneys are working from home to allow people to engaged in virtual mediation. However, once the outbreak is over, attorneys may continue to occasionally work virtually. You may choose to reach an agreement virtually. If you or your spouse has relocated, virtual mediation may be right for you. Even if you and your spouse currently live together, it may be easier to talk about issues in your home, instead of your mediator’s office. You may find yourself thinking more clearly.
“Meeting” with your attorney over the phone or through a video conference software may be easier than actually meeting in person. You’ll save money by avoiding costs associated with taking off from work to meet at your mediator’s office, and by avoiding travel costs to get to your mediator’s office. Many mediators may offer extended hours to help resolve issues before you go to work, or when you arrive home.
Because you’ll be communicating online, you can resolve disputes from the comfort of your home. Avoid the hassle and stress of going to a courtroom. If you don’t live with your spouse, avoid the potential anxiety of resolving disputes face-to-face. You may even feel more comfortable communicating virtually with your spouse instead of sitting in a conference room together in your mediator’s office. Communicating from home may allow you to feel more relaxed, and thus, think more clearly.
Law firms and mediators may provide you with training to use various video conferencing software. Even if you’re feeling uneasy about communicating virtually, many firms will be able to give you the training necessary to feel confident and comfortable communicating virtually. Virtual communication may be the perfect solution to resolving issues.
5. Your children remain a priority.
If you choose to litigate, you or your spouse, or one of your attorneys, may want your children to testify. At any age, the trauma and hardships of testifying against a parent may last with your children for a lifetime. If you choose to mediate, you don’t have to worry about testifying, and your children won’t have to worry about testifying.
Preparing to testify takes time, money, and causes stress. You’ll be subject to cross-examination by your spouse’s attorney, and you may be asked questions you’re not prepared to answer. If your children testify, they’ll also be subject to cross-examination. You’ll also need to pay your attorney an hourly fee to prepare you and your children to testify. Mediation eliminates the process of testifying, and thus, you can avoid the potential pitfalls all together.
You may not want your children to know about the intimate details of your divorce. If you choose to litigate, your divorce becomes part of the public record. Your children may be able to view the record, and gain insights into the details of your divorce that you want to keep private. However, because you choose what becomes part of the public record during mediation, you children become aware of only the details you and your spouse choose to tell them. This keeps you in control and your children’s best interests at the forefront of your divorce.
Because you and your spouse avoid a courtroom battle, you work through your differences amicably under the guidance of a trained mediator. You avoid dragging out the divorce, and you can likely create a fair custody plan sooner than you’d be able to if you chose litigation.
6. You are in control.
Unless court imposed, mediation is voluntary. You choose the pace your case moves at and you make the decisions as to the issues in your case. You won’t have to worry about a judge imposing a custody plan that you don’t agree with, because you, your spouse, and your mediator, create one that works for both of you.
If you and your spouse can work together, you can obtain a divorce in as few as four meetings with a mediator. This in turn means spending less time and money on your divorce.
You may spend months, possibly years, in court if you choose to litigate. The litigation method does not guarantee a favorable outcome. Thus, you may spend time in court, and money on your attorney, but still obtain a result that you are unhappy with. If you choose to mediate, you determine the outcome of your case.
7. You and your spouse are likely to carry out the agreement.
Because you and your spouse create the settlement agreement, you’re more likely to stick to it. If you litigated and you or your spouse obtained an unfavorable child custody agreement, you may find your spouse not wanting to abide by its terms. This may result in you and your spouse going back to court.
By coming to an agreement with your spouse, you avoid going to court, reduce stress, save money, and make your children a priority. While mediation may not be right for everyone, it can help you obtain a divorce judgment sooner than the litigation method. Since you and your spouse agree to the terms of the settlement, you lessen the possibility of going to court to change the agreement in the future.
Because many people are experiencing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak, your mediator may help you arrange a payment plan. If you choose to litigate, many attorneys require that clients pay retainer fees. However, if you choose to mediate, he or she may be open to the possibility of setting up weekly or monthly payments. If you want to reduce stress, and save time and money, mediation may be the right option for you.