On behalf of Sena Family Law & Mediation Practice on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.
Everyone has heard horror stories about a contested divorce and the unexpected judicial decisions or exorbitant costs. In mediation, both sides have a voice but it’s brokered and mutual, focused on resolution instead of issuing an iron decree.
Matters to Decide
Moving out of the marital home is often the easiest decision in a divorce. The hard part is agreeing on the division of assets and the child custody arrangement. Other than a checking account, most assets don’t have easily divisible lines to be drawn down the center. Instead, there is negotiation: who gets the house, the retirement account, the car, even the dog.
Custody is even more challenging. The children are living, loved beings and defining their futures in a written parenting plan can feel alien and unnatural compared to cohabitation. There are many influencing factors: your own professional needs, your children’s ages and your children’s unique needs.
The Role of the Mediator
A mediator is a neutral middle body, in place to hear both sides and offer solutions. A mediator makes suggestions rather than demands. Before anything goes in writing, both parties have to agree. It’s a hands-on approach that, while addressing emotional topics like custody and finances, uses a personal touch to reach agreement.
Mediation vs. litigation
The structured atmosphere of a divorce court can lead ex-spouses to heightened emotional arguments, making the divorce more dramatic and painful for everyone involved. After arguments are made, it’s up to the judge to determine your future.
A judge is a professional and impartial decision maker, but also a stranger who is looking at your life on paper and through testimony. There is no getting-to-know-you period.
Mediation allows a more natural tone, a back and forth negotiation instead of a he-said-she-said courtroom narrative. Mediation can be cheaper than litigation and is preferred by many judges. More importantly, by having a back and forth exchange of ideas, both parties come away with a sense of resolution.
Even in the worst case scenario when the two parties can’t agree and end in divorce court, your mediation sessions will form the basis of a judge’s decision.
Divorce court is an adversarial atmosphere that pits parties against one another. In most divorces, regardless of reasons for the split, the ultimate goal is resolution and moving on with your new lives, not to air the dirty laundry. Mediation works to meet that goal in a constructive and personal format.