Seeking a Divorce Mediation Firm in Orange County? Not quite sure what is involved when it comes to divorce mediation? To learn more about divorce mediation, check out our blog post below.
Thinking Outside of the Box with Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is unlike the litigated divorce system in so many ways. Usually, when a couple goes to court, a judge will make all of the decisions on issues ranging from child custody to property division and everything else in between. Of course, the law is the compass and controls the outcome very much. As a result, property is divided 50/50 (assuming it is community property), and the outcome follows the letter of the law. However, this type of outcome doesn’t fit every type of person.
In divorce mediation, we work with couples from all walks of life. Some are in short term marriages, some are in long term marriages, some have children, some don’t. In some cases, one spouse works while the other stays home. In other cases, both spouses work. Couples have all kinds of different compensation packages ranging from base salaries to commissions to bonuses and even restricted stock awards. Our couples are different ages and have different personality types. Therefore, a settlement that may have worked perfectly for one couple may not work at all for the next couple. This can be true even if the “facts” of both cases are similar. Everyone approaches life differently and this causes them to have different goals and intentions for their divorce.
This is why we believe so strongly in divorce mediation. It gives you the opportunity to create a settlement that works for you, without having to think about what is right or wrong for someone else. While court can help couples end up with an equal division of their assets, it is usually a one size fits all approach. Although the judge is going to do his or her job very well, he or she doesn’t have the time necessary to sit down with the couple and craft a customized and unique settlement. This could result in an attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.
In divorce mediation, a couple sits down with a divorce mediator. Typically an attorney as well, the divorce mediator should be well versed on the law. Therefore, the divorce mediator can give the couple legal information about what the law says regarding a particular issue. Then, the couple can make their own choice about what is best for them. In addition to giving the couple the power of choice, the divorce mediator can also help the couple by suggesting different versions of settlement that the couple may not have thought of. Here are some examples of what we call a holistic settlement in mediation:
1. One person keeps the house and the other keeps more cash:
In this example, Husband and Wife own a home that has $200,000 equity in it. They also have a cash account that has a $200,000 balance. They each own vehicles that are very close in value and they have no credit card debt. Here, Wife expresses that she would like to continue to have the security of staying in the residence. She does not want to move given all of the emotional stress she is already experiencing. Husband, however, initially expresses that he wants to sell the house to have more liquidity. If the couple went to court, the judge may order the house sold and the cash split 50/50. Since the couple is in mediation, however, they can agree to do this: Wife keeps the house at the value of $200,000 in equity. Husband keeps the entire checking account. Here, both people ended up with $200,000 and their underlying interests are met. Wife gets the security of staying in the home, while husband gets more liquidity.
2. One person keeps the house and the other keeps a retirement account:
Using the example above, we can now add that instead of cash, there is a retirement account. Assuming the couple has spoken to their CPA and financial advisor regarding the tax consequences of this decision, one person can keep the house and the other can keep the retirement account. This helps the couple avoid having to sell the house and divide the retirement account.
These are just two examples out of many different ways a divorce mediation can go. Again, every couple is different and they are going to have different needs and concerns going into the divorce mediation process. There are no two settlements that are exactly alike, and that is a good thing!