In this article, we’re going to discuss should you consider private mediation for your divorce. Deciding to get a divorce is extremely difficult for anyone regardless of the circumstances. While many people think that this decision is the hardest part of the process, the choice between divorce mediation and a more traditional litigated divorce can be even more challenging if you don’t understand the major differences.
Traditional Divorce Litigation
A lawyer’s role in the divorce process is to represent the party that hired them. Their goal is to achieve the best outcome for their client, and they can only represent their client. There are a number of steps in the litigation process that may vary depending on the state, county, and the individuals getting the divorce.
Generally, each partner hires their own lawyer to identify, negotiate, and attempt to resolve any issues or disputes to finalize the parties’ divorce.
Both sides’ lawyers will negotiate the relevant issues and disputes. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the divorce will proceed to the family court. A court date will be set and each party will proceed to prepare their case for a trial. At trial, testimony will be taken from each party, documents will be shown to the court to attempt to prove their points, and arguments will be made by each side’s lawyers based on the parties’ respective positions.
Witnesses may be called to the stand which can include close friends, family, and even children. This will all take place in family court in front of a judge who will make a decision regarding custody, child support, spousal maintenance or alimony, division of assets, and more.
In this process a mediator or independent, neutral third-party conducts, oversees, and aids in negotiations between the two parties to end their marriage.
The mediator in a divorce mediation helps the two parties involved in a conflict come to agreements on various issues, such as custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts, that need to be resolved prior to the parties’ finalizing their divorce.
During the mediation sessions, the mediator participates in the negotiations, but the parties themselves have total control over any decisions that will be made or any agreements reached. This differs from traditional litigation where the judge makes the final decisions.
When it comes to mediation, the mediator does not necessarily have to be a legal professional. They could be a financial professional or mental health professional, but based on their experience in dealing with the issues in a divorce, both from a legal and practical perspective, many mediators are experienced family law attorneys and/or former judges.
Their working knowledge of divorce laws and what the family court may do at a potential trial may help in the mediation process, especially when it comes to resolving more complicated matters. Additionally, either one or both parties choose to involve their own respective lawyers to provide them legal advice and counsel on particular issues and aid them in providing information relevant to making informed choices and agreements.
Should You Choose Mediation?
There are many differences between litigation and mediation. If you want a more peaceful process that allows you to control the outcome and make your own decisions with certainty, then mediation may be right for you. In most cases, it’s a lower cost option that takes much less time than traditional divorce litigation.
Mediation is the best route for parties who want to split amicably and maintain a great amount of control over their custody arrangements, assets, and debts.
If you would like to learn more about using private mediation in a divorce, contact the attorneys at OWENS & PERKINS by calling our office at 480.994.8824 or clicking here to schedule your FREE 30-minute legal consultation.