If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, there is a strong chance that you will spend at least some time in mediation before your divorce is granted. With mediation, you and your spouse will use a mediator as a neutral third party to help you reach an agreement. Maybe you and your spouse each have attorneys, but you want to mediate a single issue like child custody or how you will calculate spousal support. Or maybe you and your spouse want to save money on attorneys and have a mediator handle the whole case from start to finish.
At Kelman Law, when we are working as a mediator we help you and your spouse identify issues that must be resolved and information that must be gathered. We then use that information to help you and your spouse identify options for settlement and choose the option that is best for your family. At Kelman Law we can also help you draw up the paperwork you need to formalize that agreement.
When does mediation work best?
Although any type of divorce case can benefit from mediation, there are some cases that are particularly suited to succeed. Mediation might be for you if:
- You and your spouse want to end your relationship amicably and with respect. You entered your marriage with respect for each other; Even if you have disagreements, mediation lets you end your marriage with respect as well. This is especially important if you have children where you and your spouse are going to have to continue to work together even after the divorce is finalized.
- You and your spouse want to save costs. Attorneys and litigation are prohibitively expensive for most people. And even if you can afford it, who wants to spend their money that way? Waging an expensive court battle just means you and your spouse will have less assets to divide. Mediation is often the best way to save on those costs.
- You and your spouse want to have control over the outcome of your divorce. If you and your spouse can't come to an agreement, you'll be left asking a judge what should be done. Having a judge make decisions about what should happen with your children, or how your assets and debts should be divided, is never a place anyone wants to be. Mediation helps you keep complete control over those decisions.
When is mediation a challenge?
The bar for when mediation can take place is pretty low; All you need are two people who are willing to sit in a room together and have a conversation about their future. That said, there are some circumstances where mediation can be more of a challenge:
- One party doesn't want to participate. While a mediator can help overcome some resistance, mediation is ultimately a voluntary process and can't force a reluctant party to participate. At some point, both parties will eventually need to come to the table, produce documents, and make decisions. If one party doesn't want the divorce, or if they handle stress by putting their head in the sand and avoiding it all together, then mediation will be difficult.
- One party is hiding assets or debts. Mediation requires trust and honesty to be successful. Sometimes you will need to produce documents for your assets and debts that will help get both parties to trust that the numbers are complete and accurate. However, if one party is actively working to hide assets and debts, mediation will be more difficult.
- There is a history of emotional or physical abuse. Mediation is not impossible in cases where there has been emotional or physical abuse, but it is more difficult. In cases where there has been abuse, there is typically an imbalance of power between the parties - one party has historically had all of the control while the other party was relatively powerless. While the mediator will work to minimize those power imbalances and bring both parties to an even playing field, there's a risk that the abuser will use the mediation process to continue to manipulate and intimated the abused spouse.
Even with these challenges, there's never any harm in trying mediation. If, despite your best efforts, you find that mediation isn't working, you can always stop at any time and move forward with a more traditional litigated divorce.
If you're considering mediation for your divorce, contact Kelman Law to learn more.