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Divorce & Family Law Help
Is Mediation the Right Choice For You?
For many couples that are getting divorced, they just want to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. Many times they already have an idea of what they want, what they are prepared to give up, and what is most fair to the other person. In instances like these, where the split is amicable, sometimes the best solution to the problem of splitting up lives that were formally joined is through mediation.
Most uncontested divorces begin with mediation in some sort of fashion. The two parties sit down with their solicitors and begin working out the detail items like dividing their assets and custody and visitation of any children (or pets, for that matter). So long as everything remains relatively amicable, both parties do not need a solicitor. Instead, the mediator, who is generally a solicitor him or herself guides the mediation process, and then, if there are no glitches, writes up the papers. Even if the mediation was amicable, both parties should take a copy of the divorce papers to his or her own solicitor for review.
Mediation works best when the couple in question is friendly with each other, got along well when they were married and came to a mutual decision to get divorced. The couple should also be in general agreement about how all the arrangements should be made and about how all the marital assets should be set up. In many cases, people go to mediation because they have a few small issues, but fear that hiring solicitors and getting arbitrators involved would just make the situation that much worse. Another thing is that both couples should be well aware of their finances, income, and assets, as proper mediation requires quite a bit of knowledge about your own finances.
Although you do not have to be on excellent terms with your former spouse in order to utilize mediation, it is usually best if you are. This is because people who get along well and are not overly angry or bitter are less likely to need arbitration or a trial. Couples who are unhappy with each other and try to start off in mediation often find themselves in arbitration or at a trial anyway. At that point, they have simply wasted time and money and have built up more animosity toward each other than what might have existed had they chosen arbitration or a trial from the start.
This is not to say that being friendly with a former spouse is some sort of guarantee that you will not need to go to trial or to arbitration. Even the most friendly, well-intentioned couple can hit a glitch during the mediation that they need an arbitrator to resolve. Because of this, and due to the fact that you need a solicitor to make sure everything is in order before you sign any paper, it is helpful to have a solicitor on retainer. Using mediation then is a great way to save money, because mediator fees are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the fees solicitors and arbitrators charge, and court fees if you end up in trial. However, if saving money is your primary motivator, mediation may not be the best thing for you.
In summation, people for whom mediation works are generally on good terms with their estranged spouse, can agree on almost every aspect of the divorce, and are well informed of their household finances. Most other people would be well advised to hire a solicitor that can help guide them through their divorce. Mediation may work very well for some people, but it is definitely not for everyone.