You’ve heard the process is quicker and easier.
But is divorce mediation really the best option?
When a marriage comes to an end, it’s common for both spouses to hope for a (relatively) quick and painless separation. Unfortunately, reality is often long, complicated, and fraught with emotions.
If you don’t have grounds for an annulment, is there a way to make divorce quicker and easier? Divorce mediation is often touted as the answer to all your problems.
But does that mean it’s best for you?
In this article, we’ll go over what the divorce mediation process looks like and help you decide whether it’s the right option.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is an alternative to litigation (that is, a big courtroom brawl) that aims to settle the issues surrounding your divorce and come to a mutually agreed-upon solution.
The important thing to keep in mind is that mediators are not lawyers.
Rather, they are a neutral third party who guides both spouses to make decisions about the details of their divorce. You can go through mediation with an attorney or without.
Unlike a judge, the mediator will not “tell you what to do.” It isn’t the mediator’s role to determine how you will divide your assets or decide who gets custody of the kids. Their job is to guide the two of you toward an arrangement.
What Is Discussed During Mediation?
The goal of divorce mediation is to settle any issues between you before the divorce is finalized. Therefore, a wide variety of topics need to be discussed.
- Distribution of assets/debt
- Child custody
- Child support
- And more
You will need to bring the most up-to-date information you have regarding your assets and liabilities—financial records, fair market value of shared property, etc.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Taking your divorce into the courtroom may seem like the more “traditional” method, but there are a number of reasons why mediation can be the better option.
First of all, mediation can be quicker and cheaper than a contested divorce hearing. Mediators don’t charge as much as a divorce attorney and the process doesn’t last as long if both parties are willing to collaborate.
In fact, many divorcing couples will tell you that divorce mediation improves communication skills—something that comes in handy when you’re trying to co-parent. You also have more control over the outcome, as any decisions made are your decisions rather than a judge’s.
Another major benefit is that mediation is confidential. Even if you eventually take your divorce to court, no one will be able to look up (or even repeat) anything that was uncovered during mediation.
Finally, many couples that go through divorce mediation report higher feelings of satisfaction in the outcomes of their case than those who didn’t.
Disadvantages of Divorce Mediation
Mediation is far from a perfect process.
Again, mediators are not lawyers. Their role is to guide the two of you toward a solution, not represent your best interests. Without a family lawyer to advise what’s best for you, it would be very easy for someone to take advantage of you.
Second, both parties aren’t always willing to compromise. Divorce mediation cannot work if either spouse isn’t committed to being 100% open, honest, and collaborative. If your spouse is more aggressive than you or there was a history of domestic violence, mediation likely will not help.
And even though mediation encourages honesty, there is no “fact-checking” process. If your spouse has a secret bank account, for example, the mediator might not ever find out about it. A lawyer, on the other hand, has processes and procedures they can use to make sure all of the facts come to light.
Finally, divorce mediation does not always work. When you hire a mediator, there is no guarantee that you will be happy with the outcome. And if the two of you are unable to settle your differences through mediation, you will have to hire an attorney and go through the process all over again.
Is Divorce Mediation Right For You?
When the process goes well, mediation is cheaper and faster than a typical divorce and both parties typically walk away a lot happier with the outcome.
The problem? Sometimes, the process doesn’t go well.
In a typical Georgia divorce, judges will usually require that couples go through mediation before a contested hearing or trial, so you should expect to do the same.
But this doesn’t mean you cannot go through mediation without an advocate.
Chances are, you already know whether your soon-to-be ex is capable of cooperating and collaborating. If you suspect that s/he will insist on having their own way or try to enact revenge, you should hire a divorce attorney to represent you—during, or instead of, mediation.
Need a Divorce Lawyer?
For some, divorce mediation can take a difficult situation and turn it into something, if not enjoyable, at the very least manageable.
But for others, the process merely highlights the very reasons you’re getting divorced.
If you are worried about how your spouse will portray you during mediation or if you simply want guidance during an already stressful time, a Georgia divorce lawyer is the best option. While a mediator works for the two of you, an attorney is your personal representative.
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