While everyone dreams of having an uncontested divorce where all proceedings are quick and peaceful, reality often has different plans. Divorcing couples are prone to disagreement, some more than others, and often have significant discrepancies in what they want out of a divorce. Some of these differences include visitation arrangements, child support amounts, and even which assets belong to which individual.
In cases like this, individuals cannot complete their divorce unless they come to a complete compromise. Many worry this means court. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Before a court trial, there is a final step called mediation. Through mediation, the final disagreements are usually ironed out, allowing the divorce to finalize, each party being held accountable while fully avoiding the stress and expense of a trial.
To learn more about the benefits of mediation and tips to be successful, keep reading below.
Those unfamiliar with the legal system might have some initial questions about what a mediator is and why mediation services will mean the outcome of their divorce. While each mediator is a little different, they all generally follow the same set of procedures with the same goal in mind: avoiding trial.
A mediator is a neutral third party whose main job is to help both sides of a divorce communicate goals and cultivate compromise. Frequently, individuals who go into mediation are current or former lawyers, some of which have completed additional certification to gain more insight into their responsibilities.
A mediator will never make decisions for you, rather, they focus on keeping communication between the parties safe, reasonable, and effective.
Mediation is normally appropriate for most cases so long as abuse or domestic violence is not a factor. Mediating within the context of an abusive relationship can create an environment where one spouse can no longer make decisions in a clear-headed manner. The reason for this is that the underlying tension and trauma make mediation less successful overall.
In all other cases, however, mediation is a first-line option to get spouses toward a settlement agreement. For more complex cases, several mediation meetings may be necessary.
Many individuals who require legal assistance can hardly afford a lawyer. In these cases, hiring extra counsel and going to court both seem like expensive options. While this is true, mediation is far less costly than a multiple trial hearing. This is true even though mediators tend to have high hourly rates– at the end of the day, it will usually never come close to the thousands of dollars spent in trial preparation and litigating in court.
As an added bonus, finding a mediator allows many families to come to a divorce agreement sooner rather than later, thus allowing you to see a quicker end to your case.
By this point, you know whether mediation is right for you. The next step is to ensure that you place yourself in a position to allow for the most successful mediation possible. Taking these sets ultimately reduced the need for several mediation meetings, allowing you to reduce the overall cost of these services and move the process along as quickly as possible.
Earlier in your divorce process, you needed to supply a financial affidavit that outlined your income and monthly expenses. The same information will be the bedrock of your mediation proceeding as well, helping your mediator understand the details of your financial situation.
Relevant documents vary on a per-case basis, but generally include any assets (house, cars, etc.), monthly payments, insurance information, income, living expenses, and childcare costs for families with children. Keep in mind that child care can be further broken down into segments, such as how much a child will need for school clothes, food, extracurriculars, tutoring, and childcare expenses.
With these financial documents in place, your mediator can help you and your partner make informed decisions about the cost of living and splitting assets. It leaves little up to chance, confusion, or manipulation, thus allowing you to have the fairest results possible.
Mediation, by nature, is a compromise for both parties. While understanding this allows you to avoid divorce court, it also means that neither side of the divorce case is likely to be happy with their end results.
As such, before engaging in mediation, seek the legal advice of an attorney about your case. By looking at all the details together, they can help you decide which issues are worth fighting for and which are not. Similarly, they will help you find the difference between wants and needs, making it so that you have a little more room for compromise if and when a dispute arises.
No matter how bitterly you fight with your spouse, you must have the interest of your children at heart. As your marriage comes to a close, your responsibilities as a parent remain the same, if not greater, to help your children cope with the loss of a one-familiar life.
As such, during the meditation process, it’s important to keep their financial needs in mind and their emotional needs as well. Take an honest inventory about where they spend time, where their friends live, and which parent is most likely to render the best care for the child.
While some mediators are current or former legal professionals, that is not the case for all. Florida does not have hard and fast rules for mediators, meaning the quality and experience of the individual you find could vary greatly if you are not careful.
To combat this, the Florida Supreme Court offers its own mediation certifications that supply training and ensure certain experience and educational requirements to pass.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, mediation is not always the right choice for every individual. Whether it is due to domestic abuse, stubbornness, or child custody, some divorces will end up in court either way. It’s then more than ever that having family law attorneys you trust ultimately decides the outcome of your experience.
Dave Roy Law, located conveniently in West Palm Beach, can handle all your family law needs. Staffed with experienced lawyers, we help individuals start their family law journey on the right foot. Contact us at 561-729-0095 to schedule an appointment.