Legal Law

Will divorce mediation work for me?

As you consider the divorce process, one of the questions you may have is about mediation and whether it will work for you. Mediation is a lower cost alternative to divorce attorneys and litigation, or it can be part of your attorney’s divorce process. Some states, like Florida, require parties to attend a mediation session prior to court proceedings. Conceptually, if you can resolve the issues within the mediation process, your costs will be lower, you will make the decisions and guide the progression of the meetings. Within the judicial judicial system, the judge directs the process and is the one who makes the decisions. Which way is best for your situation becomes a function of what you hope to get through the court process versus what you will get through mediation sessions. Mediation is not an easy process and requires diligence and time. Like anything else in life, it’s what you put into it that will help determine your outcome. If you are willing to put in the time, the negotiation period with your spouse, quite possibly the attorney’s fees if necessary, and the mediator’s fees, then it becomes a route that could be very successful. If you plan to go into the process expecting others to do the work, with little preparation or facts, then mediation may not be the solution for your situation.

When considering mediation as an alternative to lawyers and the courtroom, one of the main questions has to be costs, or “how much will mediation cost me compared to the lawyers and courtroom scenario?” While this also depends on what assets you may have, such as children, houses, cars, 401Ks, and personal possessions, since each of these areas must be dealt with in the courtroom or in mediation, mediation typically costs approximately $250- $400/hour. If the issues could be resolved within 8 hours, then the costs could range from $2,000 to $3,200 plus the Settlement cost, which averages $500, and court costs, which are also about $500. So, within mediation, it is possible to get a divorce and resolve all marital issues for approximately $3,000 – $4,200. If we compare this to the litigation path, the initial payment for many of the attorneys will be $2,500, and that would be multiplied by both the husband and the wife. So, before the process begins, each side’s attorney will get almost the equivalent of what it would take to resolve the issues and walk away with a settlement under mediation. The overall costs of contested divorces have been significantly higher, depending on the net worth of the couple. As we have all read, the higher the net worth, the more expensive the divorce will be.

So will divorce mediation work for you? If you can put your anger, frustration, and differences aside to sit down with your spouse and work through the Parenting Agreement, the Financial Agreement, and the “who gets what” agreement, then mediation may work for you. But, if you can’t get past the frustration, anger, and bad feelings you get from dealing with your spouse, then maybe the courtroom is in your future. Don’t forget that the money you give to your litigants is the money you could be giving to your children or using for your retirement. That choice is yours!

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