Mediation vs. Litigation: Divorce With a Heart
If you are considering divorce, you will ultimately get to a point where you decide which route your family will take. Are you going to litigate and let the courts decide, or is there a chance that you can mediate?
When I first began practicing as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, I worked very closely with other mediators and initially came to two conclusions. One was that I didn’t want to be a mediator (an opinion that has changed a full 180 degrees). The second major conclusion, however, has remained solid, that mediation is by far the best choice for a couple to negotiate their divorce settlement.
Life Changing Decisions
My own divorce was initially a do-it-yourself divorce in which numerous, large errors were made in the original paperwork. To further complicate things, the cooperative attitude during the process quickly faded after the divorce was final. We ultimately went back to court multiple times to litigate our decisions. It was a process that nearly drained me of both financial and emotional resources. I now understand that in a litigated divorce, everyone loses. It costs a fortune, takes forever, and decisions are left to a judge who doesn’t know you or your situation and really doesn’t give a darn either. Life-changing decisions are made in a couple of hours and you may or may not get a chance to even explain your side. It’s brutal, demeaning, adversarial, and ultimately largely disappointing.
I now happily serve as a mediator, or a neutral guide for couples through their divorce discussions. It is definitely hard work, but now that I’ve been doing this for years, it is clear to me that this should be the primary way that people are allowed to divorce. It promotes understanding, outcomes that work for everyone, and removes the limitations that might otherwise be imposed by overly restrictive laws. A mediated divorce settlement has the opportunity to be whatever works for the parties and their children for everyone’s best interests. It saves literally thousands of dollars in costs and encourages a working relationship that can extend post-divorce. The inherently adversarial nature of a litigated divorce often destroys any respect the parties had for each other by the time the decree is finalized.
Use A Mediator If You Can
If you’re considering divorce, make every effort possible to attempt mediation to work out the details. A mediator will help you bring in any necessary experts and often they are also document preparers who can complete the paperwork from start to finish. A good mediator will always recommend that you have any documents reviewed by an attorney before filing and you should absolutely take that advice! As I always say, you only have one opportunity to get it right and you can’t afford to make mistakes. But you CAN make the process respectful and efficient and some form of alternative dispute resolution is, in my opinion and experience, the only way to go!
Contact us at Smarter Divorce Solutions with any questions on how you can have a kinder, gentler and more affordable divorce.