Mediation can be an effective way to get a divorce without a drawn-out court battle, provided you and your spouse can get along well enough to decide all the pertinent issues while compromising. However, where cost is concerned, does it actually save you money? The short answer is yes. The less time you need to spend with your attorney and the less time spent in front of a judge for your divorce means more money left in your pockets. If done properly, mediation accomplishes both of these goals.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which you and your spouse sit with a mediator, a third party person who is unbiased, and discuss your assets and debts. You will also discuss any issues involving children. This discussion will lead to a plan on how to divide your marital estate and how to handle custody, medical, and educational issues for your children.
Once the mediator has heard from you and your spouse and looked at your financial statements, he or she will draft Memorandum of Understanding, or “MOU” that contains all or most of the terms of your agreement with your spouse. You and your spouse should have this MOU reviewed by your mediation review attorneys to be sure it is fair, enforceable, and says what you expect it to say from a legal perspective. Once all terms are agreed upon and the MOU has been converted by your review attorneys into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) that you and your spouse will sign, you and your spouse will go to court with your divorce mediation lawyers for an “Uncontested Hearing” to have the judge grant you your final judgment of divorce with your MSA attached.
It can be a very simple process that can keep you and your spouse out of court and away from the dramatized as-seen-on-TV legal battles that can be completely unnecessary.
Do I Need a Divorce Mediation Lawyer?
Just because mediation is an amicable process doesn’t mean you don’t need a divorce lawyer. Your lawyer is your advocate. Prior to meeting with the mediator you and your attorney should sit together to review all of the information you have about your marital estate. Then, your divorce mediation lawyer can help make sure you are being treated fairly and are well-represented in your marriage settlement agreement and custody arrangement.
You should always have your divorce lawyer review any final documents before you sign them in order to make sure the agreement is fair and acceptable.
How Mediation Saves Money in Divorce
Litigated (“In-Court”) divorces aren’t cheap and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on who you ask, some people will stay married and live separate lives just because they believe divorce is too costly for them. Even if you don’t have significant assets to divide, the average litigated divorce can still cost between $15,000 and $20,000. That price tag can be too far out of the reach of many people, causing many people to seek an alternative option.
Mediation can be that alternative. Instead of paying for experts, significant attorney fees, and high court costs, you can hire a divorce mediation lawyer to consult on your mediation on a limited basis and then work with the mediator. You new divorce fees can go from $15,000 to $20,000 or more to as low as half that.
This savings isn’t limited to a small percent of people who go through mediation. As long as you and your spouse can set aside your differences in order to come to an agreement, you’ll be able to save yourself from a costly divorce. Because a mediation takes anywhere from one to three or four sessions, it’s not nearly as costly as a divorce or as time-consuming.
Is My Case Right for Mediation?
However, it’s important to note that there are times when litigation during divorce is unavoidable. If your spouse is unwilling to go through mediation or is set on seeking what would be an unfair agreement, or has narcissistic personality disorder or is abusive to you or your children, you likely will have to go through litigation in order to complete your divorce.
Divorce is a difficult time and with the many emotions that go along with the process, it can be difficult to think of handling it amicably. However, in the interest of what is best for you, both mentally and financially, and for any children involved, it may be best to consider mediation. If you are looking for a divorce mediation lawyer to help you through the process of mediation, contact the attorneys at Keith Family Law today.