When people think of divorce, they often imagine a hotly contested dispute that ends up in court. However, many couples are able to end their marriages on amicable and respectful terms.
Before a divorce reaches the courtroom, both parties can seek a resolution to any disagreements they have about their divorce order through mediation. A mediator—a neutral third party—helps you and your spouse openly discuss the issues surrounding your divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.
Mediation gives couples an opportunity to settle their differences without the presence of a judge. However, prior to deciding if mediation is right for you, there are some pros and cons to consider.
- Less costly – When a divorce goes to trial, you must pay for court fees, attorney fees, and more. By contrast, mediation is usually cheaper since both parties collectively pay for the mediator, rather than each of their lawyers.
- Faster – Scheduling conflicts between courts and each party—and their lawyers—can result in significant delays, which is why some divorces can take numerous months to finalize. Not only does mediation enable couples to avoid court procedures, but also offers them flexible scheduling to reach a divorce agreement in a matter of weeks or a few months.
- Confidential – Anything presented and said in court may be a matter of public record. On the other hand, the mediation process can be more private.
- More control – At the end of the trial, the judge determines the outcome of the divorce. When it comes to mediation, couples can control the outcome of their divorce, which means it is possible to reach an agreement that benefits both parties.
- Good for the children – The courtroom can be an adversarial battleground, which is not conducive to a happy and healthy family life once the divorce is finalized. Since mediation involves effective communication, both parties can learn how to work together and successfully co-parent, which benefits the children.
- You and your spouse do not get along at all – If there is a substantial amount of animosity in the relationship, it can be extremely difficult to sit down with your spouse and attempt to have peaceful and constructive discussions about divorce matters. Mediators are only willing to help couples who wish to work together.
- Your relationship has a history of domestic violence – If one spouse has suffered abuse or is constantly being intimidated by the other, the final divorce agreement would not be equal for both parties. The abused party may have trouble advocating for their best interests.
- Inequality in communication – Mediation is an informal process designed for both parties to decide the terms of their divorce. If one party is more reserved and timid than the other, he/she may not obtain a fair agreement.
- Hidden assets – If you suspect the other party of hiding assets, it will only make property division more complex. Court litigation is inevitable if you need the assistance of forensic accountants and other financial experts, or if you need to have your attorney take depositions, etc., to determine if your spouse is being dishonest about his/her finances.
- No legal advice – The mediator is only responsible for helping both parties come to a resolution, rather than provide legal advice to each. When you do not have a lawyer on your side, only you will be able to look out for your best interests. You are not receiving advice about making the best decision for you.
If you are proceeding with a dissolution of marriage in Missouri, contact our Chesterfield divorce lawyers at Galmiche Law Firm, P.C. today for more information.