When we think of divorce proceedings, we typically think of spouses sitting in a courtroom arguing over their claim to assets and children, but what if the spouses generally agree on the issues in their case? Must couples go to court if they see eye-to-eye on a variety of topics and are ready to sign an agreement? Luckily, the answer is no, thanks to divorce mediation and out-of-court negotiation strategies.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a legal process where a couple meets with a neutral attorney to discuss and attempt to reach an agreement with regard to the details of their divorce. With this method, in many cases, couples can entirely skip courtroom proceedings.
Rather than engaging in costly and acrimonious motions, discovery procedures, and court dates, the spouses will meet together with an attorney-mediator and discuss the issues in their case jointly. These include issues of custody, support and asset distribution. The mediator will assist the couple in reaching an agreement. The parties can still review the issues with separate counsel if they choose. In short, divorce mediation and out-of-court negotiated settlements are for couples who generally agree on how to settle the issues in their case and are prepared to cooperate with one another to go through the process.
It is important to note the mediation process is voluntary. Issues discussed in divorce mediation agreements are only final and binding when the mediation agreement is signed and notarized. Thereafter, a judge signs a divorce decree at the end of the divorce process, which makes the agreement enforceable as an order of the court.
Mediation can also be used to resolve part of the case, i.e. custody. If there are issues that still need to go before a judge, either party can file a request with the court.
What Are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
Here are some benefits of divorce mediation:
- Saves time when compared to divorce litigation;
- Saves money when compared to divorce litigation
- Can be more amicable than divorce litigation;
- More collaborative than divorce litigation;
- Things discussed in mediation remain private;
- The mediation process is flexible.
What Are the Drawbacks of Divorce Mediation?
Here are some potentially negative aspects of divorce mediation:
- Items discussed are not finalized until an agreement is signed;
- One party might be at a disadvantage regarding control or access of financial information, i.e. a business;
- Quiet personalities may feel overrun by strong personalities;
- Mediation can be used as a stall tactic’
- Disagreements in divorce mediation may lead to litigation after the fact, costing additional time and money spent after the mediation process breaks down.
Divorce mediation works best for couples who can communicate, collaborate, trust, and understand each other. If spouses can accomplish these things, they can save a lot of animosity, money, and time.
Are you looking for a divorce mediator or a negotiated settlement that avoids court? Wisselman, Harounian & Associates is here to meet your needs! Call (516) 773-8300 now for a free consultation concerning your case.