At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we can appreciate that divorce can be a very stressful time. You are most likely dealing with a lot of emotions that are very new to you. It is common to be angry, frustrated, scared, sad, and everything in between. However, before you decide to pursue litigation to “get your spouse back” take a moment to think about the outcome both long term and short term. In this blog, I will go through a side by side comparison of divorce mediation vs. the more traditional route of litigation from a more emotional perspective so you can really understand the differences between the two.
1. Divorce Mediation allows you to express your emotions:
Although divorce mediation is not all about the emotional aspect of divorce, it does give you a forum to express your feelings. It is your divorce mediator’s job to provide a safe and respectful environment in which you can openly communicate your feelings. This type of expression can actually help the divorce mediation process. When a divorce mediator can understand the reasons why you feel a certain way, he or she can make more customized and creative suggestions about how to settle your case. For example, if you feel emotionally connected to the home because your children grew up there, your mediator may suggest you keep that home and allow your spouse to keep another asset of similar or equal value in exchange. Without this fact, however, your divorce mediator may not know what to suggest. It is important to keep in mind, however, that while divorce mediation is focused on understanding your needs, your divorce mediator should not allow either spouse to make derogatory or accusatory remarks about the other spouse. It is about communication, not blame.
Litigation is very different than mediation. When you meet with your divorce lawyer, he or she is going to want to get information from you about your circumstances and what is going on. This person may even be supportive in allowing you to express your feelings. However, the judge who hears your case will not have the time or desire to hear about your needs and emotions. Instead, the judge will want to hear concise, fact and law based arguments and will not allow you or your attorney any extra time to express how you feel. There is a misconception that people have about this – they think they will get in front of the judge and tell their side of the story and that the judge will validate their position. This is not how divorce works. A judge is there to make a decision based on the facts and the law and that’s the bottom line.
2. Divorce Mediation fosters a fair division of assets:
In divorce mediation, your divorce mediator will be there by your side to provide you with legal information. This is different from legal advice because the divorce mediator is not telling you how you should or should not act based on that information. You will, however, be informed about basic community property laws and family laws that govern your specific circumstances. Typically, it is both spouses’ goal to end up with a similar result to what they would get in court. This usually means that the assets would be divided 50/50, or what the law calls “in kind.” If there are any exceptions to the law that would apply to your case, your divorce mediator will inform you and allow you to make a decision about how you want to treat that particular asset or debt. The result is that you have reached a settlement that is close to what you would get in court without having to spend the money associated with getting lawyers, etc.
In litigation, although you will spend a lot of money on attorneys and experts, you will not end up with a magical result. The law is still the law and you will still get what you are entitled to, not more. A lot of people think that they will “win” if they go to court. What they don’t understand, however, is that the law (for the most part) is very clear about who will get what. The cases that apply to divorces are also straight forward and explain the reasons behind the law. So, if you believe that you will get more or “win” if you go to court, think again.
3. Divorce Mediation allows you to make judgment calls:
As we all know, divorce deals with a lot of intimate issues. There is child custody, property division, spousal support, child support, debt division, and more. In divorce mediation, although you will be informed about what the law says, you still have the power to make your own decisions. You, as the parents of your children, get to decide where your children will spend their time and when. You will decide what will happen to your money. You will decide what will happen to your future.
In litigation, on the other hand, you will give the reins to a judge. This judge, who does know know you, your spouse, or your children will have full authority to make these important decisions for you. Think that’s scary? Well, add that the judge has very limited time to listen to what your attorneys have to say about the case. In essence, the judge is often making a snap decision about your future.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we pride ourselves in creating a peaceful and respectful environment for divorce. Divorce is hard enough, let us take some of the pressure off.