7 Things Divorce Lawyers will Never Tell You (Part 4)
Mediation Is Your Best Divorce Option
If you and your spouse agree on most of the major aspects of your divorce and can communicate with each other in a civil manner, you can save time, money and anxiety by getting a mediated divorce. In this process, you both use the same attorney, which will cut your and your spouse’s combined legal fees in half. Also, while it often takes months to finalize a litigated divorce, our firm has completed many mediated divorces within 30 days.
The attorney you hire will not represent either of you. Instead, he or she will guide both of you through a process of resolving all issues in your divorce without going to court or being involved in litigation. Your attorney will prepare all documents required to finalize the divorce once you and your spouse reach an agreement.
A lot of divorce and family law firms do not offer divorce mediation. One reason is that it greatly reduces legal fees—and therefore, the firm’s profits. Another reason is that it requires a high degree of training and professional skill. When done correctly with an attorney who is trained, this can be the best option for your divorce.
Here Are Some Facts You Should Know About Mediated Divorce:
- It’s Not For Everyone—Mediation is not a good fit for couples who have a high degree of conflict or who cannot communicate. You and your spouse must be able to communicate and cooperate to some degree because you will need to attend your initial consultation together. Mediation is also not appropriate for cases involving domestic violence or other abusive situations. For most other cases, it is a good idea to at least explore mediation as a first option in your divorce.
- It Can Save You Money—If you participate in a successful mediation, you will undoubtedly save money over a litigated, or contested, divorce, partly because you and your spouse will be working with one attorney, not two. That cuts your costs in half. But if you participate in a lengthy mediation and fail to reach an agreement, then end up going to court, you have essentially lost the benefit of saving money on mediation. This doesn’t happen often, fortunately.
- You should avoid hiring a non-lawyer—You should never hire a non-lawyer to mediate your divorce case. Our firm has seen countless mistakes, errors, omissions and just plain terrible agreements mediated by non-lawyers. We see them because we are the ones hired to clean up these messes. This is definitely a pitfall you need to watch out for.
- You Should Hire A Lawyer Who Has Mediation Experience—Successful divorce mediation requires skills that law schools do not teach. Divorce attorneys who provide mediation often undergo many hours of mediation training after law school. Good mediation attorneys are skilled in mediating issues for the spouses involved. They know how to avoid the traps that can sometimes sink the chances of a successful resolution. A great mediator also understands all aspects of the law that apply to each case and provides creative solutions to help you and your spouse reach an agreement.
If you decide to pursue a mediated divorce, it is important to schedule a joint attorney consultation with your spouse. This avoids creating a possible conflict of interest that can result when one spouse contacts a lawyer on his or her own, then wants that lawyer to become a mediator for both spouses.