When you are getting a divorce, there are several ways to complete the process of dissolving your marriage. One way is through traditional litigation, which leaves the issues of the divorce to be decided by the court. You and your spouse could also attempt to negotiate the terms of your divorce on your own, or perhaps each with your own attorney providing guidance. However, many couples find that the process of mediation is the most efficient and effective divorce method. Before you decide how to proceed, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mediation can help you choose the best option for your divorce.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
During divorce mediation, the two spouses discuss their unresolved issues in front of a mediator. A mediator is a third party who will aid divorcing spouses in conflict resolution. His or her job is to be a neutral advisor during the mediation process, helping to clarify misunderstandings and guiding the spouses toward making decisions. The mediator does not represent either spouse and therefore cannot provide either one with direct legal advice, but it is helpful to have a mediator who understands all of the legal complexities of the divorce process, including the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time (visitation), and the division of assets.
Divorce mediation offers several potential benefits, including:
Cost - Often, mediation is a less expensive alternative to litigation. One reason for this is that mediation is often a faster process, which means you will likely be paying less for a mediator than you would for an attorney to represent you during litigation. Some experts suggest that choosing mediation over litigation can save you up to 60% when it comes to your divorce.
Control - Your mediator is there to help both sides reach an agreement rather than to make decisions for you. During mediation, all decisions are up to you and your ex, and you can work together to reach a compromise on the outstanding issues in your divorce. In court, on the other hand, the final decisions will be made by a judge, and you will have little control over the outcome.
Confidentiality - Court cases are public, which means that records from the trial can be easily accessed. With mediation, there are no public transcripts or records, which keeps your divorce between you and your ex.
That said, there are some possible downsides to mediation. These include:
Environment - Unlike a trial, a mediation session does not have formal rules to ensure that each party has an opportunity to voice their perspective. If one party does not speak up about their desired outcome for the divorce, there may not be anyone to advocate for his or her best interests. During litigation, on the other hand, a lawyer will help prepare documents and evidence and speak on your behalf.
Not for every situation - If a marriage is ending because of emotional or physical abuse, mediation will likely not be helpful, and it may be another opportunity for the abuser to inflict further damage.
Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney
While mediation can be beneficial, it requires spouses to work together and be willing to compromise. If spouses are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, further legal action will be required to resolve any outstanding issues. At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, our DuPage County divorce attorneys are also trained mediators who can help you come to a resolution using the method that is best for you. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation and to find out if mediation is the right choice for your divorce.