Divorce mediation has so many advantages—cost savings, speed, convenience, and emotional satisfaction—that it’s sometimes hard to understand why more divorcing couples don’t use it.
Many of our family law clients resist the concept of mediation. They know that a formal litigated divorce could be tense and expensive but they fear that a mediated divorce settlement might be even worse.
Don’t believe everything you hear
Unfortunately, these clients are depriving themselves of a tremendous opportunity. It’s true that divorce mediation is not the ideal solution to every troubled marriage. However, by refusing to consider mediation, many couples are setting themselves on a rockier path than they need to follow. Often, these people are shying away from mediated divorce on the basis of anecdotes they have heard from friends of friends. Many of these stories are urban legends that are simply not true.
Here are five of the key doubts we have heard clients express about divorce mediation that are just plain wrong:
- “The mediator will take my spouse’s side against me.” MYTH. The mediator is trained to be neutral, and professional ethics require that she remove herself from the case if she can’t be impartial. Despite persistent stories about bias, scientific studies show that mediators do not favor one gender over the other, or favor wage earners over stay-at-home spouses.
- “I want a lawyer to review my decisions, but lawyers aren’t allowed with a mediator.” FALSE. Even if the mediator prefers that divorce attorneys not be present during mediation sessions, you are always free to retain a lawyer and consult with him on every point before you sign the final mediation agreement.
- “I can’t stand to be in the same room with my spouse—that cheater! So there’s no way to negotiate.” MYTH. A mediator is trained to defuse tensions and to get people to focus on the material issues. You will be surprised to find that your resentment of your spouse can be set aside so you can plan to dissolve your marriage. (It helps that mediation allows you to set the terms of the way you get divorced from the spouse you no longer can tolerate.)
- “I will get a better settlement in court than through a mediated divorce settlement.” NOT TRUE. You never know in advance how the court will divide marital property. In a mediated divorce, though, you are in control. If needed, your mediator can call on experts to appraise the fair market value of your marital property, and also audit your family debts. You can negotiate to prevent some assets from being sold, but the state rules for dividing marital property still provides a framework for the final property agreement. Because litigated divorces are so expensive, you’re more likely to have more property to divide when you choose a mediated divorce.
- “I’m determined to get a divorce, but the mediator will try to persuade us to stay together.” FALSE. Mediators are not marriage counselors. In fact, with no-fault divorce available in every state, mediators know it would be useless to try to stop a spouse determined to end a marriage.
Divorce Done Right: Your mediated divorce resource
With offices across the country, Divorce Done Right is a regional leader in divorce mediation services. Depending on the clients’ needs, we provide or make referrals for experienced mediators, negotiating spaces, divorce attorneys, or other family law resources. Above all, we believe in empowering our clients to conclude their marriages on their own terms in order to get emotional closure as well as resolution of all legal issues. And we do this all with a reasonable fee structure that’s far cheaper than most litigated divorces.
To learn how we can help you, call us today at (866) 337-4448 toll-free or fill in our online contact form. We’re also here to answer any questions you may have about our services.