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Is Mediation Right for You? Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution

If you're heading into a divorce, chances are you've heard the term "mediation" mentioned at least a few times. It's become one of the most popular ways for parties to reach mutually beneficial arrangements during the divorce process.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean mediation is right for everyone. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, choosing to use mediation instead of litigating the case in-court could help or hinder you. Today, we're covering everything you need to know about mediation and factors you should consider when deciding how to handle your divorce.

What Is Mediation?

In mediation, two parties work together with a mediator to try and negotiate mutually beneficial terms for their divorce.

Mediation can be a great option for tackling the divorce process. Let's cover some reasons you may want to choose mediation for your divorce.

It Helps Reduce Costs

The average in-court divorce in the US costs around $15,000. In contrast, mediation usually costs just a fraction of that amount.

When you litigate a divorce in court, you have to pay attorney fees every time you appear before a judge. Additionally, in-court divorces are usually more combative than out-of-court divorces, meaning they often take a significant amount of time to resolve.

In contrast, mediation usually occurs over one or just a few sessions, and the process happens outside of the courtroom. The parties don't even need to hire attorneys during a mediation, reducing costs significantly.

It Offers a More Peaceful Path Forward

Mediation is based on the premise of two parties engaging in good-faith negotiations to find a mutually beneficial path forward in their divorce.

Since mediation is focused on helping parties collaborate to agree on terms for their divorce, it lays the foundation for a better relationship between divorcees. As a result, individuals who engage in mediation often have an easier time moving on post-divorce if they part ways, or can maintain a more amicable relationship moving forward (if they need to remain in-contact as co-parents, for example).

For many individuals, mediation can be a legal springboard into a happier, healthier life post-divorce.

Mediation Happens Quickly

As we mentioned earlier, mediation often occurs over the course of one or just a few sessions. For couples that agree on how to handle various facets of the divorce process (property division, alimony, child support and custody, etc.), that makes it a great option for quickly moving past the divorce and minimizing conflict during the process.

At Lane & Lane, LLC, we're proud to offer comprehensive mediation services to our clients—but we know it's not right for everyone. Mediation may not be the best option in the following scenarios.

One Party Can't Act in Good Faith

If one party is incapable of acting in good faith or negotiating with their soon-to-be-ex, mediation may not be the best option for you. The last thing you want to do is go into mediation, fail, and then end up back in court even angrier with your spouse than you were before mediation.

There's a Power Imbalance Between the Parties

Power imbalances in relationships can be financial (one party owns most of the assets), or mental/physical (this is common in divorces where domestic violence plays a role or one spouse is emotionally abusive/manipulative).

Frequently, courts won't allow couples to engage in mediation if they think there's a power imbalance between them. That's because one party may try to strong-arm the process to get more than they deserve. Keeping the divorce in court helps the judge supervise the case and prevent one party from taking advantage of or manipulating the other.

If a factor like domestic violence, emotional abuse, or financial disparity plays a role in the divorce, you should consider moving forward in court instead of using an out-of-court solution like mediation.

You Need More Time to Think About Your Options

The relative quickness of mediation can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your situation.

If you're heading into the divorce and don't know how you want to handle various processes like the division of assets and debts, you may want to go with a more drawn-out form of alternative dispute resolution, like a collaborative divorce.

Alternatively, if you don't think the other party will act honestly out of court (hiding assets during property division, for example), you may want to consider litigating your divorce in court to prevent any suspect actions on their part.

With that information in-hand, we hope you feel more comfortable deciding whether or not mediation is the best path forward in your divorce.

At Lane & Lane, LLC, we provide clients services tailored to alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, as well as offering a more traditional path forward through the court system. We'll work with you to find the best way to preserve your best interests and advocate for your rights as you move through the divorce process.

To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (908) 259-6673.