If you’re considering getting a divorce, you may be dreading the thought of having to get in touch with a lawyer and started the long, painful process of litigation. That could take several months or even years to settle in court.
However, you do have other options. Are you and your spouse are looking for a low-stress, low-cost alternative to a litigated divorce? Divorce mediation may be a good fit for you.
Mediation is a way for divorcing couples to find mutually beneficial solutions in matters such as asset distribution, spousal support, and child support and custody.
What's more, it allows them to do so without the stress of having to hire lawyers and go through the formal litigation process in a family court.
During mediation, the couple gets help from a licenced third party, known as a mediator. This mediator acts as an impartial consultant and offers suggestions as needed to ensure a smooth experience for all involved.
Unlike other methods of divorce settlement, mediation places a high emphasis on civil communication and collaboration between the divorcing parties.
In typical divorce proceedings, both parties hire family lawyers also called family law solicitors to represent their own individual interests. These lawyers then become the primary actors in communicating and making decisions on behalf of their clients.
This can become messy, as each divorce attorney is generally more focused on “winning the case” for their respective client than on finding common solutions. In most cases, this dynamic can prolong the process and create unnecessary tension between the divorcing parties.
On the other side of things, a mediator allows divorcing parties to communicate directly and on their own terms. Since the mediator works for both parties rather than just one, he or she has no incentive to act in favour of one side or pit the two against each other in any way.
The mediator and his or her clients work on a level playing field to approach common issues together as a team. As a result, the divorcing parties can focus on settling the actual matters related to the divorce and avoid petty squabbles.
A mediator may be a former or practising lawyer as well, but this isn’t always the case. Regardless, he or she should have a good understanding of the complex issues surrounding divorce and how to approach them with care.
All divorce mediators must go through specific training to receive court certification. However, each individual mediator can take his or her own approach when it comes to carrying out the actual process.
Some may prefer to meet with you and your spouse together, while others may opt to speak to both spouses individually and act as an envoy. The latter option may be better if you and your spouse are on delicate terms and you fear a joint session may become heated.
After getting in contact with a divorce mediator, you and your spouse set up an initial appointment with them. The goal of the initial appointment is to discuss any outstanding issues and lay down a framework for solving problems.
Subsequent appointments will focus on singling out issues and working to create compromises.
This is a completely confidential, customisable process with no red tape or time obligation involved. Where divorces involving lawyers can take anywhere between one a half and three years to complete, most mediated divorces don't last longer than six months.
Once you and your spouse reach a mediated agreement, the terms of the agreement are formalised in writing. In the following days, the court will review the agreement and make it into a legal order.
Divorce can be especially complicated when you have children. If you’re a parent going through a divorce, you likely have concerns about what will happen to your family.
In that case, a mediator is an ideal option for you. Mediation child custody allows divorcing couples to address family matters in a way that suits everyone involved.
It can also help lessen the familial strain that tends to occur throughout the divorce process.
When divorce lawyers are involved, it often becomes difficult for you and your spouse to maintain an honest, amicable relationship.
Going to a mediator together may actually help improve your relationship and prevent future arguments. This means you’ll be able to work together more effectively as co-parents of your children.
Again, this can vary between individual mediators. In 2020, the average cost of divorce mediation was roughly $200 per hour.
Given that this process usually takes place over the course of five to ten sessions, the average total cost adds up to less than $5,000. That's three times less than the average cost of a litigated divorce.
However, mediation is like marriage: it doesn’t always work out. If you do not reach an agreement, or if one party violates the agreed-upon terms, your next step may be to get in touch with a divorce lawyer.
Choosing to get divorced is hard enough on its own. The process of finalising your divorce shouldn’t make you feel helpless. With mediation, you have control over your options.
After all, you and your spouse know your relationship better than anyone else does. Why should you leave it to a divorce attorney or judge to make critical decisions about your future?
If you’re ready to take the next steps, learn more about our divorce mediation services today. Our mediators are experienced divorce lawyers so you will be in safe hands.
Please note the contents of this post is information only and not legal advice. If you require legal advice it is best to contact one of our lawyers who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.