Facing a marital separation but feeling unsure whether to choose mediation or traditional divorce court? It can be a confusing time for all parties.
In most cases, handling your divorce through mediation is ideal. When you're dealing with a divorce, you want to make it go as smoothly as possible. Surprisingly, sometimes that means going to court instead of mediation.
When to Choose Mediation
In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to discuss the parameters of your divorce. You will discuss issues like child custody, distribution of assets, and maintenance. It is a private affair (unlike a divorce court), and is kept amicable and fair by the mediator. Depending on the mediator, you may be required to attend mediation with your own lawyer.
Unlike a lawyer, the mediator does not work for either party - he or she must remain neutral and refrain from giving advice to either side. Instead, your mediator is there to offer information and suggestions to negotiate the best possible solutions.
This is usually the best option for being efficient, cost effective, and amicable. Unfortunately, some circumstances dictate court instead.
When to Request a Divorce Court
Why, if divorce courts are so much more painful to deal with, should you ask for one? Here are several circumstances in which going to court is the better option:
If your soon to be ex-spouse is unwilling to cooperate with mediation.
If your spouse hires a belligerent or aggressive lawyer.
If your spouse has not made full financial disclosure or is hiding assets.
If your spouse can not be located.
If you or your spouse need to establish a point of law.
If family violence has occurred and/or may occur in the future.
Mediation has to be completely voluntary. If your spouse is not interested in complying with mediation, you’ll have no choice but to take your divorce case to court.
Additionally, if you want an attorney’s protection or experience or believe that your spouse will bully you in a mediation setting, court might be the best option for you. There is nothing wrong with going to court, and it's very dissimilar to cinematic portrayals of divorce court tirades. Courts are formal, controlled, lawful zones – there's nothing to fear by choosing this option.
Disadvantages of Traditional Divorce Courts
There are several disadvantages of taking a divorce to court. Mediation is designed to help a couple work together to their best mutual advantage. Courts are designed to pit them against each other. When you each hire your own attorney, there is no choice but to “fight it out” in court, and peaceful negotiations are often difficult to achieve.
Additionally, divorces handled by a court often drag out longer than those negotiated with mediation. Hard feelings may persist, and lingering discontent can make the healing process much more difficult. In general, couples who plan to see or interact with each other after the divorce will probably want to choose mediation.
Courts are also open to the public, unlike mediation, which means there's less privacy for you and your ex-spouse.
If you have further questions about what avenue you should take with your divorce, consult Valerie Little at .