Divorce Mediation Gives You Greater Control Over The Cost And The Outcome
“Arguments often serve the purpose of using up energy‚ so that the couple does not have to take the courageous‚ creative leap into an unknown they fear. Arguing serves the function of being a zone of familiarity into which you can retreat when you are afraid of making a creative breakthrough” – Gay Hendricks
The Divorce Mediator’s Role
A divorce mediator’s neutrality and skill at managing and diffusing conflict is the cornerstone of the mediation process. Difficult, sensitive issues like the creation of a workable co-parenting plan and the division of marital assets and debts – issues that affect long term financial security for both sides – are discussed and voluntarily resolved in a way that satisfies the needs and interests of both parties. In our experience when people feel their concerns and feelings are not only understood, but accepted and validated by the other side, they’re willing to compromise in a way that both feel is fair. Often times during divorce mediation our clients have remarked how they haven’t been able to communicate on such a deep level in years. This helps to equalize the balance of power and remove the emotional barriers that cause disagreement, which then makes it easier for them to create a settlement that both will be comfortable with.
The Difference Between Mediators And Attorneys
During a divorce, the roles of Mediators and Attorneys are as different as their professional education and training. Their personal philosophy regarding divorce matters greatly also so it’s important to understand how each profession views their role and works professionally to resolve the issues divorcing couples face because although both may offer mediation services they’re often quite different in their approach and consequently the results you may get.
Mediation professionals are experts in resolving conflict, creating agreement and creative problem solving. By identifying points of agreement and then isolating and resolving points of disagreement, they help clients make informed, intelligent decisions that both sides feel are fair and in their mutual best interest. This process includes virtually all aspects of their lives that they need to untangle and is done in a way that first and foremost validates and considers both parties’ needs and interests equally. The RI Divorce Mediation Center is a provider of divorce mediation services. We don’t double as therapists, although at times it’s necessary and appropriate to explore the hostile feelings behind a couple’s inability to agree on a particular issue to help break an impasse. We’re nationally certified in Divorce and Family Mediation and Conflict Resolution which is a profession separate and apart from the practice of law. A much more thorough understanding of mediation in general can be found throughout this web site, in particular “What Is Divorce Mediation” and “How Divorce Mediation Works”
Attorneys are legal advocates and experts in the law and the use of litigation, the legal procedures used when representing clients in court. Their job is to vigorously represent their client’s wishes and interests in a very competitive, adversarial legal system where adjudication – judging and rendering a verdict – by using the law, the legally defined concepts of fairness and the guidelines established by the court are the rules of engagement. The same approach to creating a divorce agreement is reflected in many attorney-mediators’ mediation style which is why you’ll usually find a more assertive, evaluative style of mediation that predicts outcomes and influences the process by “judging” the legal merits of the settlement terms as you mediate. This more judgmental, evaluative style of mediation is also used in family court ordered mediation cases when the parties can’t reach a settlement to expedite their case and avoid a trial. It’s interesting to note that within the mediation profession many of the most innovative conflict resolution methods that have advanced the practice of mediation and improved its reputation and usefulness as the best alternative to a litigated divorce were created by experienced family law attorneys who “hung up their boxing gloves” and used their legal expertise and experience working within the legal system to create better ways of avoiding it – by settling out of court using mediation.
The Benefits and Advantages of Divorce Mediation
You Control Of The Cost And The Outcome Of Your Divorce
With the help and guidance of their divorce mediator, couples are able to manage and even move past their anger and disagreements to stay focused on the best way to settle their divorce fairly instead of fighting in court. Once they realize they’re in control of the process and in turn the outcome, the motivation to settle to keep costs down is great, making the process smoother and faster.
Mediated Agreements Last
Studies show that 80-85% of couples who use divorce mediation to create a divorce settlement are successful. And naturally, divorced couples are far more likely to honor a mediated settlement going forward versus a court mandated settlement because it reflects their own feelings, values and judgment and they had a hand in creating it.
You’ll Save A Lot Of Money When You Both Need It Most
Everything you’ve heard about contested divorces and child custody battles lasting years and costing a fortune is true, and in reality it’s worse. These couples aren’t interested in mediation to save money because it’s not about the money. It’s about using the court system for revenge and punishment. But ironically it’s the rest of the divorcing couples, the ones who file an uncontested divorce to avoid spending a fortune who are the most vulnerable and at risk of going broke because of their divorce and here’s why… We live in a litigious, law suit happy society where everybody’s a victim-in-waiting. Every day people are encouraged and enticed to sue for damages at the drop of a hat. This “sue the bastards” mindset bleeds into divorce too and when you combine it with intense peer pressure from friends, family and co-workers to “get everything you can” or “don’t give ’em a dime”, divorcing couples can feel scared or even foolish if they don’t go on the offensive… Whether they can afford it or not. This law suit mindset is reflexive when harm or conflict arises between strangers. It’s why corporations view the legal system as an extension of the marketplace and have attorneys on retainer. But our marital relationships are woven into who we are and during a game-changing event like a divorce the trust, affection and comfort level we once had with our spouse is replaced by anxiety, suspicion and fear. This is why so many divorcing couples give in to the irresistible pull of fear, greed, and dubious, even reckless advice from family, friends and co-workers (and yes, attorneys) and immediately go on the offensive. But what these well meaning people don’t tell you is how much control over the outcome and your life afterward you’re surrendering and how much money you’ll waste playing what amounts to a game of legal chess…
And what’s the upside? An even worse relationship with your ex-spouse than before which results in depressed, stressed-out, shell shocked children? Thousands of dollars in legal fees eating up your share of your property settlement, or even bankruptcy? Even more legal fees and trips back into court because of ongoing hostility when trying to co-parent your children?
Now even though this happens every day in Family Court, it doesn’t have to happen to you and here’s why…
Even couples that begin to mediate their divorce in an angry, resentful state of mind can and do still manage, with a divorce mediator’s help, to stay focused and sensible enough to create a fair divorce agreement in a handful of sessions over a period of weeks compared to months or even years of slow, expensive litigation, conflict and tense negotiating. And they’re able to do this because they’re working with someone who’s trained to help them communicate, understand each other’s point of view and work out a compromise, not make matters worse by doing the opposite as part of an adversarial legal strategy.
It’s not uncommon for an uncontested divorce to cost each spouse upwards of $10,000 in legal fees or more if they don’t settle quickly and the cost climbs the longer it takes. And that’s not counting the lost income many people lose taking time out of work for attorney conferences and court appearances. And that’s also not counting the expense of dividing any retirement accounts by a court ordered QDRO which is separate and apart from your attorney’s legal fees.
In contrast, our divorce mediation costs are ‘pay as you go’ and limited to the cost of the mediation sessions and the preparation of your final Memorandum of Understanding agreement. This leaves the average divorcing couple adequate financial resources to consult with an attorney about their agreement before signing it, which we always recommend, and then retain their services to process their divorce in court – all without breaking the bank.
Based on statistics released in 2011 by the Federal Government’s recently created Consumer Protection Agency, 20% of all bankruptcies filed in recent years were due to divorce. So it’s clear that the cost of waging a litigated, adversarial divorce, even uncontested, represents a serious financial threat to the average divorcing couple at a time when they can least afford it, and the ironic fact is that the overwhelming majority of these couples filed for an uncontested divorce to avoid the devastating financial expense of a contested divorce.
Mediation Is A Risk–Free First Resort
Although the likelihood of being able to successfully settle your divorce using mediation is very high – certainly high enough to try considering the cost of the alternative in most cases – there will always be instances when a couple can’t get past their feelings or positions to try to mediate their divorce. But since mediation is voluntary and doesn’t diminish your legal rights in any way you can always try to mediate and if you’re unsuccessful you can discontinue the process and use litigation to settle your divorce in court.
You’ll Protect Your Children From Your Divorce
Unfortunately, children suffer the most in a protracted, adversarial divorce. Often used as pawns and caught in the middle but still expected to take sides‚ children often suffer extensive psychological damage when living in the crossfire between angry‚ divorcing parents they love and rely on. Studies have shown repeatedly that children are spared much of the stress, fear and anxiety that occurs during a divorce when their parents choose to use mediation to settle their divorce.
Mediation Is Confidential and Private
To encourage the use of mediation‚ Rhode Island‚ Massachusetts‚ and Connecticut law, for example, makes mediation totally confidential. What happens in mediation, stays in mediation. Any notes or work documents or verbal disclosures that occur during mediation are private and confidential unless deemed otherwise by all parties including the divorce mediator‚ and are not admissible as evidence in court if no settlement is reached. Your privacy is another important benefit to using divorce mediation. In a typical contested divorce your private life in addition to any evidence used in the trial, the court records and other supporting documents and even certain sensitive personal details about why your marriage failed can become public information, able to examined by anyone who visits the Court Clerk’s office. Settling using divorce mediation ensures your privacy as the couple’s negotiations and sensitive personal issues remain confidential by law.
You Won’t Destroy Your Relationship Fighting In Court
The stress and conflict of divorce can inflict a difficult mental toll on even the toughest among us. People generally become fearful, stressed and angry which distracts them from their jobs, detracts from their health and can even put them at odds with good friends and family. The use of mediation won’t dispel the larger sense of anger, hurt or maybe sense of loss you’re experiencing, but it can help you feel more in control and it will transform your relationship to the situation by engaging you in a constructive, not destructive problem solving process in a calm, respectful environment.When one spouse aggressively initiates a litigated divorce the other naturally perceives it as a hostile act and responds in kind. Corporations have legal counsel on retainer and are used to viewing the courtroom as an extension of the marketplace‚ but a marriage with children begins parental and in-law family relationships that last long after the divorce is over. For example‚ divorced couples need to continue to maintain a co-parenting relationship through school and sports events‚ graduations‚ weddings‚ funerals and then of course there’s the birth of grandchildren! Mutual friendships and extended family relationships often continue after the divorce too. Unfortunately‚ angry spouses who immediately begin aggressive litigation underestimate the long term repercussions of this strategy‚ thinking because their marriage is over, the relationship is too, which is definitely not the case when children are involved, which is why your children, most of all, will be glad you chose mediation.
Mediation Models Responsible Behavior For Your Children
Even though parents try, the emotional upheaval of your divorce can’t help but bleed over into everyday life with your children. And although they won’t say it, they’ll be looking to you both for stability and at the same time watching how to manage change and emotional conflict in relationships. Experienced parents know that kids “do what we do, not what we say” and your decision to mediate your divorce will serve as an excellent example for your children, teaching them a valuable lesson in peaceful conflict resolution they will likely model in future relationships of their own.
Mediation Is Faster: You Can Proceed At Your Own Pace
Divorce mediation is a much faster and more efficient process as well as effective. By approaching your settlement and any disputed issues as a series of decisions to be made and problems to be solved rather than a legal game, it directs your energy and especially your financial resources into attacking the problems you need to solve… Not each other. Couples who choose mediation typically settle their divorce in far less time than others who resort to aggressive conflict based litigation in court.
Convenience: You Control The Schedule
Although they do their best, Family Court systems are often slow moving and congested and make few if any concessions for the convenience or work schedules of those having business with the court. The RI Divorce Mediation Center is client centered, offering divorce mediation sessions in late mornings‚ afternoons and early evenings Monday through Friday to accommodate our client’s work, child care and family schedules.
Mediation Is About Making Your Own Decisions
We believe a couple’s divorce settlement should center around the welfare of their children; their financial security, and their quality of life going forward and they are the ones best qualified to create it because they have the most at stake and have to live with the results. It’s just common sense. But because it’s such a long, stressful process – from the events leading up to the decision to divorce, to the day the divorce is final – divorcing couples (like you and your husband or wife) usually end up making important decisions about their future at the worst possible time. When they’re scared or angry and stressed out. It’s a big reason so many divorces turn into an economic and emotional disaster. But because these decisions are about sensitive personal matters and divorce mediation is a better place than a lawyer’s office or the hallway outside the courtroom for making these kinds of decisions, people are able to remain calm, in control and better able to make sensible, well informed decisions and create a workable divorce agreement they can live with. The higher divorce settlement compliance rate that mediation enjoys supports the common sense wisdom of this view.