We talked several times about decreasing the expenses associated with your divorce case. One of the areas that I’ve touched on previously was mediation. I have explained what mediation is and how the process maps out, now let’s dig a little deeper and discover how mediation POSITIVELY affects your checkbook.
Mediation can be faster, less expensive and provide better outcomes than litigation if the parties are willing to resolve the issues together. The ability to work together not only results in lower costs and better solutions that reflect what the parties want, not what their lawyers where able to impress upon a judge, but also sets an example of understanding and compromise for children involved. To be clear, formal litigation is always an option, but should only be used if necessary because neither party really wins, even when they win. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the differences between litigation and mediation.
If You Litigate Your Divorce
If You Mediate Your Divorce
|YOU SPEND LOTS OF MONEY… Your combined attorney’s fees will be approximately $30,000 or more. You pay for discovery, delays, trials, countless phone conversations between the attorneys.||YOU SAVE MONEY…Your combined mediation fees, review by consulting attorney, and paperwork preparation may be less than $5000.|
|KIDS IN THE MIDDLE… If custody is contested, the court will probably appoint a lawyer for your children and the lawyer will probably insist upon invasive psychological evaluations of the family.||PROTECT YOUR KIDS… The two of you will determine what’s in the best interests of your children.|
|SOMEONE ELSE DECIDES… The outcome will be decided by a judge or commissioner.||YOU ARE IN CONTROL… The outcome will be determined by you and your spouse.|
|YOUR PERSONAL FINANCIAL INFO IS PUBLIC RECORD. CASE DETAILS ARE ON THE INTERNET… All the filed declarations where you and your spouse make accusations against each other to gain advantage are public records available to anyone to view, even years later by your children and grand children.||YOU HAVE PRIVACY… There are no filed declarations making accusations against each other. You maintain your good reputation. Mediation is a confidential process where decisions are made in a private conference room.|
|COURT OVERSEES EVERY DETAIL… The Court will determine when you have custody of your children and you will need to return to court for every change as the kids get older||YOU HAVE CHOICES… You can try out various parenting plans to see if they work. You can modify the plans as your children get older without returning to Court.|
|MONEY TALKS… The Division of Property will be based on:
||FAIRNESS COUNTS… Mediators help you negotiate a fair settlement.|
|BE THERE… Your divorce will follow the timetable determined by the needs of attorneys and the court.||YOU SAVE TIME… You decide how fast or slow you want the process to proceed. You can schedule mediation at your convenience|
|HARD TO ENFORCE… You and/or your spouse may not feel committed to the results be-cause of a lack of participation in the process, bitterness fostered during the proceedings, or lack of fairness in the result.||MORE LIKELY TO COMPLY… Child support, spousal support and parenting plans are more likely to be maintained when mutually decided.|
|TOXIC… Even the most poised, self assured individuals can find themselves one of the walking wounded after experiencing a day of the antagonistic debilitating and emotionally draining experience of watching your spouse and yourself being torn to shreds in court.||DIGNITY… You will maintain your dignity. You will experience the challenge of working with your spouse to make the best of a bad situation. If you can’t save the marriage, save the divorce.|
|CLUELESS… Your attorney will negotiate property and custody issues for you. You will be advised not to communicate directly with your spouse.||YOU PARTICIPATE… With the help of a neutral mediator, you will problem solve property and custody issues to design an agreement that works for you and your family.|
In the end, it comes down to dollars and sense (yes, sense). What makes the most sense for your situation? You can either work together to reach an agreement or allow a person who hardly knows you make decisions for you.