WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?
There is a lot of confusion in the legal community about divorce mediation. True divorce mediation is a process in which the parties hire one lawyer, who represents neither party, but rather guides the parties through a process of resolving all issues in their divorce without going to court or being involved in litigation. Typically this includes having the lawyer prepare all documents required to finalize the divorce once an agreement has been reached. True divorce mediation is not offered by a lot of divorce and family law firms for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common is that it is a process that greatly reduces legal fees in a case, and it is a service that requires a high degree of training and professional skill. When done correctly, however, it can be one of the best options you have for your divorce.
IS MEDIATION RIGHT FOR YOUR CASE?
Mediation is not a good fit for couples that have a high degree of conflict or who cannot communicate. The parties must be able to communicate and cooperate to some degree, because as you will see below, 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, divorce mediation should at least be explored as a first option in your divorce.
THE ADVANTAGES AND PITFALLS OF MEDIATION
- More expensive or less expensive? If you participate in a successful mediation, you will undoubtedly save money over a litigated, or contested divorce. However, if you participate in a lengthy mediation and fail to reach an agreement, then end up going to court, you have essentially “lost” all of the fees you spent on mediation.
- Qualified or unqualified mediator? In New Mexico, you do not have to be an attorney to mediate a divorce case (but only an attorney can prepare the final legal documents). There is also no requirement to be licensed to perform mediations in this state. But, 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.
- A much quicker process. A successful mediation will save you a lot of time and a lot of fees over other types of divorce. It often takes many months to finalize a divorce. Our firm has completed many mediated divorces within 30 days.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FIND A GOOD DIVORCE MEDIATOR?
Successful divorce mediation requires a lot of different skills. First, obviously, is an ability to mediate issues for the parties. This is not something that is taught in law school. Divorce attorneys who provide mediation often undergo many hours of mediation training after law school, and have worked hard to develop these skills and to avoid the traps that can sometimes sink the chances of a successful resolution. A great mediator will also understand all aspects of the law that applies to each case. And the very best mediators will provide creative solutions to help the parties reach an agreement. Finally, mediation is less lucrative for attorneys than litigation, so many lawyers and law firms are not willing to thoroughly develop this area of their practices.
HOW TO GET STARTED
When you are ready to get more information about a mediated divorce it is important to schedule a joint consultation with your spouse. This avoids creating a possible conflict of interest when one party contacts a lawyer on their own, then wants that lawyer to become a mediator for both parties.
New Mexico Legal Group has many attorneys that are qualified and highly skilled in the area of mediation. You can schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys and your spouse by calling (505) 843-7303 and asking for a consultation relating to a mediated divorce.
Or you can submit a case evaluation using the form on this page.