By the time a couple decides to get a divorce, they’ve already been through an emotional cactus patch. The process of the divorce itself can be just as brutal. In fact, some couples put off a divorce too long for the simple reason that they hate the idea of litigation.
In many cases, mediation can be a great alternative than a battle of lawyers. The primary advantage most couples see in mediation is the lower price tag. In fact, it can cost less than one-tenth the price of divorce litigation.
So why do so many couples still choose litigation? There are plenty of divorce mediation myths floating around about mediation that turn off many great candidates. Today, our experts are setting the record straight.
Divorce Mediation Myths Debunked
Before you start shopping for a lawyer, make sure you know the truth behind these mediation myths.
You have to be friendly with your ex to mediate successfully
Plenty of people say, “I don’t get along well enough with my ex to have a productive division of assets.” These people often forget an important element to the mediation: the mediator.
A mediator has experience in the art of helping two conflicting parties find common ground. If they do their job well, they’ll keep your conversations on track and be a “referee” to help you come to agreements.
With that in mind, there are still some couples that can’t make mediation work. In cases of spousal abuse or if there’s a fear of physical violence, mediation may not be a good idea.
Lawyers recommend against mediation because you won’t get a good settlement
There are two misconceptions in that divorce mediation myth. First, many lawyers do recommend trying mediation before litigation. They’ve seen its benefits and how it can reduce the emotional damage of a divorce. They’ve also seen that it can provide just as fair of a settlement as litigation can.
If a lawyer recommends against mediation, it’s important to question why. Chances are that they’re trying to get more money out of you.
Mediation means giving up
To some couples, “I want to mediate” translates to “I’m not willing to fight for what I deserve.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it’s a sign of maturity that you want to put yourself and your ex on a level playing field.
Mediation allows you just as much of an opportunity to stand up for what you deserve. In fact, 90% of divorce mediations are successful, so you have a great chance to reach a fair settlement.
Anyone can be a mediator, so there’s no way to tell the good from the bad
It’s true that there are plenty of unqualified people who sell themselves as mediators. However, it’s easier to find the good ones than you may think.
Look for a mediator with strong knowledge about your state’s divorce laws. For instance, find a lawyer who is also a mediator. Find out how much mediation training and experience your mediator has. Ask for references from past clients as well.
The mediator will rush me to make major decisions before giving me time to do research
Divorce mediation myths like this are common, but in reality, you’ll have just as much time to analyze and value your assets as you would with litigation. You can each take all the time you need to bring in appraisers and other experts who can evaluate your assets.
The one exception is if you think your ex is hiding assets or will try to hide assets. In this case, litigation may be best so your lawyer can investigate and find the hidden assets.
The mediator will try to pressure us to save the marriage
This all depends on what mediator you hire. Some “mediators” think of themselves more as marriage counselors who are trying to get you back together.
Be clear with your divorce mediator that reconciliation is not an option. If at any point they brag about how many couples have reconciled during mediation, run the other way.
I won’t have as much of an opportunity to fight for my kids in mediation
This is simply not true. In fact, mediation is one of the best things you can do for your kids. Court battles can be more painful for kids than parents realize.
In mediation, you’ll have plenty of time to come up with a custody agreement that works for everyone. For many exes, during the process, they come to respect the other person more as a responsible co-parent so they can remain more civil for their kids.
The exception to this is if you think your ex would provide an unsafe home for the kids. It’s rare that a couple agrees upon full custody for one parent in mediation.
Mediation will draw out the process longer
The opposite is actually true. If you compare how long mediation takes to how long litigation takes, mediation is almost always the faster course. If you want to settle the divorce and get on with your lives, mediation is probably the way to go.
Mediation Puts More Work on Your Shoulders
Some people see divorce mediation as putting the negotiating work on their shoulders rather than a lawyer’s shoulders. While that’s true to some degree, litigation doesn’t tend to save you much time in the process. Chances are that you’d spend as much time talking to your lawyer in litigation as you would spend at the mediation table.
In fact, many couples like the added control they have over the process when they mediate.
The Mediator Could Take My Ex’s Side, and Then I’m Stuck With Nothing
A mediator’s job is to remain neutral rather than fighting for one side or another. It’s important to recognize that the mediator doesn’t make any of the decisions: you do.
Even if you felt that a mediator was being unfair, it’s easy to fire your mediator and choose another mediator instead. If you choose, you and your ex can keep the agreements you’ve already made and pick up with the new mediator where you left off.
Choosing Between Divorce Mediation And Litigation
There’s no doubt about it: divorce is an uncomfortable and unpleasant process. For many couples, though, mediation can go a long way toward a more amicable process and a fair solution that leaves you with less emotional baggage. Now that you know the truth behind these divorce mediation myths, you can make an informed choice.
If you’re ready to start working through your divorce, reach out to our law offices and allow us to debunk all those divorce mediation myths.