Divorce is commonly thought of as an unavoidably messy and complicated affair in which both sides of a former partnership try to win a legal battle over the other. While many divorces do end in litigation, it’s not the only outcome.
In fact, couples may decide to pursue divorce mediation instead, which could result in a more amicable and flexible settlement. But why choose divorce mediation when there’s no guarantee of its success? This page will break down the many benefits of divorce mediation and explore why you might choose this alternative settlement path over litigation.
The Divorce Mediation Process
Divorce mediation is relatively straightforward and fast to execute, which is one of the major benefits in its favor (more on those below).
Apply for Mediation
Firstly, you and your partner both apply for mediation. You can use a divorce mediation agency or contact a divorce lawyer, who may be able to operate as a mediator without taking any side in the forthcoming proceedings.
Mediation application must be agreed upon by both parties, however. You cannot serve mediation papers to your partner the same way you can serve divorce papers.
Meet with the Mediator/Attorneys
Next, both parties meet with their mediator and decide whether or not to hire divorce attorneys to help them organize information and present their side of things. Divorce lawyers are not strictly necessary for divorce mediation, though they may still be helpful given the complexity of all divorce-related issues.
Furthermore, attorneys can help keep the mediation neutral and ensure that both sides are fairly represented without emotional outbursts.
The mediator, meanwhile, is a neutral third party trained to settle disputes and find a mutually agreeable resolution during this confidential process. Compared to hiring attorneys in traditional litigation, couples may find that family mediation – and reaching a settlement agreement – is a lot smoother and emotionally easier.
Frame the Issues
In the framing phase, the mediator speaks to both parties and attempts to frame all of the relevant issues concerning property division, child custody and visitation rights, and so on. The mediator attempts to discover everything they can about the situation so they can propose fair agreements in the next phase.
During the negotiation phase, the mediator works with both parties and/or through their attorneys to create a marital separation settlement. They will propose solutions with a compromising mindset and attempt to draft solutions that are acceptable to both sides in a divorce.
Draft a Settlement and Wrap Up
If mediation is successful, the mediator will draft a legally binding settlement and the session will conclude. Some divorce mediation efforts may only last a few hours or days compared to the weeks or months that traditional litigated divorces usually require.
Benefits of Mediation vs. Litigated Divorce Process
Why consider divorce mediation as opposed to a traditional litigated settlement? There are several major benefits that mediation brings to the table compared to divorce litigation and the typical court process.
Cheaper than Litigation
For starters, mediation is always cheaper than litigation. When you pursue mediation with your spouse, you only have to pay the one-time flat fee to file paperwork and hire a mediator. While the price can be higher than this if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse choose to hire attorneys as well, it’s still cheaper overall because of the next major benefit.
Divorce mediation offers a much faster resolution to a breakup because it’s much quicker than litigation overall. You don’t have to pay an attorney’s hourly rates for weeks or months on end. Instead, you meet with a divorce mediator once or twice, wrap things up, and that’s all there is to it.
These faster resolutions are not only cheaper, but they are also easier on your mental and emotional health. If partners want to break up amicably and quickly to move on with their lives, mediation may be the best possible choice.
Fewer Restrictions on Evidence and Discovery
In addition to those points, divorce mediation imposes far fewer restrictions on discovery and evidence. Typically, family law attorneys from Fort Worth have to exchange documents beforehand and prepare summaries of inventory and financial information. They provide this information to the mediator.
Once the mediator has all the facts, they can quickly offer alternatives or solutions to both parties, facilitating a faster resolution overall. In comparison, litigated divorces are slowed down significantly because of the procedural and evidentiary rules, which often limit what kind of evidence is admissible.
Since mediation is much more informal, the rules are accordingly relaxed. This may result in a more manageable and peaceful divorce settlement overall.
Less Emotional Turmoil
As touched on above, divorce mediation frequently leads to less emotional turmoil or struggle on the part of both parties. Since it is faster, cheaper, and because a mediator approaches the situation looking for an agreeable solution instead of a “victory”, both parties typically walk away more amicable than they would with a traditional litigated divorce.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have kids, this could be a big point in mediation’s favor. Kids never want to see their parents divorce, but they especially never want to see their parents fight or hate each other.
All divorce court proceedings and outcomes are not confidential. Everything that happens in a family law court is part of the public record (with some exceptions).
In contrast, your mediation session is completely confidential and completely private. In this way, both parties in a divorce don’t have to worry about what the general public might see, which could be advantageous if one or both partners have a career that may be affected by the public’s perception of events.
This could provide a significant benefit to both of you, especially if your case deals with extraordinary circumstances.
Flexibility for Solutions
Most mediation arrangements are much more flexible in terms of solutions for proposed issues or disagreements. Again, since victory isn’t the point, mediators are free to provide alternative or flexible arrangements for things like child support, child custody, alimony payments, property division, and more.
Mediation Isn’t Always Final
Lastly, mediation is not always final, and you don’t have to necessarily pick one or the other. If you are on the fence about whether mediation or litigation will be better, you can always try mediation first, then decide to litigate if necessary.
Many couples may decide to do this if they are optimistic about their chances to reach an amicable settlement. If no amicable settlement is possible, a litigated divorce is always available and you won’t have lost much money in the process.
You’ll then have to go through the court system, setting a court date and hiring an attorney for the optimal outcome during your court litigation.
Contact Texas Family Law Attorneys Today
Divorce is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be a drawn-out or messy affair. Divorce attorneys like the lawyers at Maynard Law Firm may be able to help if you wish to pursue mediation or a traditional litigated divorce no matter your circumstances.
As a locally owned and family-focused law firm, it’s our mission to make your divorce proceedings as smooth and successful as possible. When we take your case, we will always have your back and lend an empathetic ear while representing you during this trying time, as well as provide sound legal advice. Contact us today for more information.