Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for all parties involved. It is a time when important decisions need to be made regarding finances, property distribution, and children. One question we often hear from people who are considering divorce mediation is “if I mediate, will I be taken advantage of by my spouse?”
This fear is understandable as it is common for one spouse to have more knowledge about finances or the legal process, but it is a huge misconception. When you are working with an experienced and professional mediator, they are always making sure that there is a balance of power between the parties, meaning that one spouse is not overshadowing the other, especially when it comes to being knowledgeable and making decisions.
During mediation, the mediator will work to establish open communication between the parties, and they will ensure that both spouses have an opportunity to express their needs and concerns. This helps to level the playing field and prevents one spouse from taking advantage of the other.
How Does Divorce Mediation Differ from a Court Proceeding?
For those who are a little uneasy about entering into the mediation process, it is often helpful to look at some of the ways that mediation differs from traditional litigation:
- Adversarial vs. Cooperative: Court proceedings tend to be adversarial in nature. Each spouse hires their own attorney to represent their interests, and the parties often engage in heated disputes in order to protect their own rights. In contrast, divorce mediation is a cooperative process where both parties work together with a neutral mediator to resolve their issues.
- Control: In court proceedings, a court has the ultimate decision-making authority. The court will hear evidence, make rulings, and issue orders that both parties must follow. In mediation, the parties have control over the final outcome. They work together with the mediator to reach an agreement that can work for both parties.
- Time: Court proceedings can be lengthy and time-consuming. Depending on the complexity of the issues involved, a divorce case can take months or even years to finalize. These timeframes have been extended further in states like New Jersey, where the shortage of judges is so bad that several counties have halted their divorce and civil cases. Mediation, on the other hand, can be completed in a matter of weeks, depending on how many sessions are required.
- Cost: Court proceedings can be expensive as each spouse must pay for their own attorney and other legal fees. Mediation is usually far less expensive as the parties share the cost of the mediator’s services.
- Confidentiality: Court proceedings are public record, which means that anyone can access information about your divorce after it has been finalized and filed. Mediation, on the other hand, is confidential. The parties sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of the process, and the mediator cannot be compelled to testify in court.
- Focus on Children: The mediation process gives the spouses the time to place a greater emphasis on the needs of the children. The mediator will work with the spouses to develop a parenting plan that works for everyone and is in the best interests of the children.
- Outcome: In court proceedings, the court will issue a final order that the parties must follow. In mediation, the parties will create a settlement agreement that reflects their own preferences and needs. This agreement can be tailored to the unique circumstances of the couple.
Help is Always Available During the Mediation Process
Mediation provides many opportunities for spouses to seek help or advice if needed. If one spouse is feeling confused or unsure about something, for example, they can ask the mediator for clarification. The mediator can also direct participants to other resources such as financial advisors or counselors who can help them make more informed decisions, and spouses are always free to retain an attorney during the mediation process if they want to.
Some people are uncomfortable being in the same room with their spouse because of everything that has happened leading up to their decision to divorce. But even when this is the case, there are still ways to make mediation work. For example, you could decide to opt for virtual mediation, which would allow you to conduct remote sessions in separate locations.
Control Your Divorce Destiny with Mediation
One of the biggest benefits of divorce mediation is that it provides a unique opportunity for couples to regain control of their divorce and create a settlement that works for both parties. No settlement can become legally valid unless both spouses agree to it, so they are the ones who ultimately decide how their divorce will be resolved.
The mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates constructive communication between the spouses, but the decisions are ultimately made by the couple themselves. This means that they have full control over every aspect of the settlement, from property division to child custody and parenting plans.
As we talked about earlier, in a traditional divorce proceeding, the court makes the final decisions based on a standard, cookie-cutter approach that does not always align with the couple’s wishes. This could make the parties feel like they have lost control of the outcome, and the resulting settlement may not be favorable for either party.
It is important to point out that for divorce mediation to work, the spouses need to be committed to the process, and they need to be active participants. They need to be willing to communicate openly and honestly with each other and to work together to reach a resolution.
This requires a certain level of trust and a willingness to compromise on both sides. But in exchange, couples can often emerge from the process with an outcome that both spouses are happy with.
Want to Learn More About Divorce Mediation? Contact Advanced Mediation Solutions Today
If you are facing a divorce and you are looking for a process that is more affordable and gives you and your spouse greater control over the outcome, mediation may be worth looking into. To find out more about whether mediation is right for you, call our office today at (856) 669-7172 or send us an online message. We offer flexible scheduling with both in-person and virtual mediation options available.