For divorcing couples, the cost of divorce often factors into when they will be able to complete their divorce and which method they choose for divorce. Many people wonder, will divorce mediation save me money? It is true, that in most cases the mediation process is a more affordable method for divorce.
It allows for easy negotiation between both parties, saving time and money. Your mediator will be able to provide legal advice to both parties and work to help you tackle the most serious divorce issues such as child custody, child support, property division, and more.
In divorce mediation, spouses meet with a specially trained mediator to discuss and attempt to resolve the issues in their divorce. Divorce mediators are often lawyers, but it’s not a requirement: Some mediators are financial specialists (like CPAs), psychologists, social workers, or MFTs (marriage and family therapists). Mediation can occur in person or online.
Mediators don’t serve as an advocate for either spouse—they remain neutral throughout the mediation. Additionally, mediators don’t make decisions about the divorce. Instead, they use their knowledge, skill, and experience to help the couple reach a compromise they can live with.
At the end of a successful mediation, the spouses will have a marital settlement agreement that lays out their agreements about the issues in their divorce. A successful mediation doesn’t result in a divorce, though—the spouses still have to present the settlement agreement to the court to approve. Because the spouses have settled, they can file an “uncontested” divorce, meaning that the court needs to only approve the settlement agreement and issue a final divorce decree. Courts usually can resolve an uncontested divorce within a month or so—much faster than a contested divorce would be finalized.
- The complexity of your case. If you and your spouse have worked out most issues in your divorce, you might turn to mediation to resolve one remaining sticking point. In that situation, you might very well reach an agreement in one session. In contrast, mediation will almost surely take longer when you have several issues to work out, such as what to do with the family home, how to divide other assets (like retirement plans or a family business), whether a spouse will provide support that’s not legally required (like contributing to a child’s college expenses), and difficult custody disputes (for instance, when one parent wants to move far away with the children).
- The level of conflict. When one or both spouses aren’t able to set aside their residual anger, controlling behavior, or even emotional abuse during mediation, the process of reaching a settlement will always take longer—or may lead to a stalemate, which would mean the cost of mediation was essentially money down the drain. (That’s one reason divorce mediation is generally inappropriate when there is ongoing domestic abuse in a relationship.) In some cases involving a history of abusive or bullying behavior, the mediator may recommend meeting separately with each spouse, which could increase the cost (because that would take more of the mediator’s time.)
- Willingness to engage in mediation. Even when a couple doesn’t have a high level of conflict, mediation might get bogged down if one spouse just isn’t ready, on an emotional level, to deal with the practical and financial issues related to the divorce. It can also take longer to reach an agreement if both spouses aren’t willing to come prepared for mediation and do their homework.
If you are unsure if divorce mediation will save you money, consider the factors mentioned above. You can also contact our law office to schedule a consultation with our team.
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