Do I Need A Judge? Why Mediation Is a Good Option for Your Divorce
Ask the Seminole Divorce Attorney: Do I need to appear in divorce court, or is mediation a good option for me?
Imagine a divorce proceeding.
When the simple word ‘divorce’ enters the conversation, most people envision only fighting. Anger. Disappointment. Sorrow. Often, all of these emotions come into play. And often, there is fighting.
But there doesn’t have to be a courtroom.
In the state of Florida, couples seeking a divorce may appear in front of a professional and impartial mediator in order to resolve their divorce through a marital settlement agreement.
Mediation is not for everyone; the more contentious the divorce, the more likely it is that a couple will have to appear before a judge. However, the more peaceful and uncontentious divorces may be resolved in a straightforward way by the process of mediation.
Only a judge can compel someone to attend mediation; otherwise, the process is completely voluntary. It relies on the good intentions of both parties, and the willingness of both to have a real conversation that results in satisfactory resolutions.
Why should I choose mediation for my divorce?
Be sure to speak to a qualified local divorce attorney before deciding to pursue mediation over courtroom divorce proceedings. You may still need or want your interests to be represented, and your attorney can participate in mediation proceedings along with you.
Choosing mediation sets you on a path toward resolving the common issues of your divorce through dialogue in conjunction with a neutral third party. This often means a smoother and more efficient process across the board.
1) Mediation is more affordable for couples. Going to court with a lawyer often requires payment of expensive retainers and court fees. Seeing a mediator means that you can escape those expensive payments. You may still retain the services of a lawyer at your own discretion, but they are not required in order to proceed with mediation.
2) Mediation takes less time than courtroom-based proceedings. Part of the affordability of mediation is how much less time it requires of you, your spouse, and your legal representation. Where some formal divorce proceedings can take upwards of three to six months, mediation may be completed in as little as six weeks.
3) Mediation is less emotionally draining for you and your spouse. Mediation is not about placing blame, and mediators are trained to be completely neutral in their discussions with you. Your mediator will help you to work through issues like division of marital assets and debts, child custody, visitation and child support, and alimony. Their role is to facilitate the process of finding agreement; their ability to succeed is dependent on your openness to reasonable discussions. In a mediation environment, both parties can discuss issues while feeling assured that they will be heard by someone who will not play favorites or take sides.
4) Mediation is easier on your family. Because mediation is more focused on negotiation than the courtroom environment, the custody discussions are often less contentious. As a result, there is a much lower likelihood of damaging the relationship between the children and either parent. Anyone who has ever discussed the emotional damage caused to a child by their parents’ angry divorce will understand the value of a more peaceful process.
Mediation is not right for everyone.
If there are extensive hard feelings on both sides, and you expect the divorce to be contentious, there is a chance that mediation may not be a good fit for you. The two parties walking into a mediation must be prepared to be calm and reasonable, and focused on finding a good solution.
When it is the right fit, the best testimony for mediation might be the positive and peaceful relationship that manifests itself between you and your former spouse for years to come.