Time and time again, I hear people speak about divorce and the idea that they will get more money if they go to court. Unfortunately, this logic just doesn’t make sense. Think of it this way … with few exceptions, California Family law states that if you bought something during your marriage, it is community property. This means that it is divided 50/50 upon divorce. When you and your spouse each hire individual lawyers to go to court, you will each be required to pay a retainer fee up front. In Orange County, the average retainer fees range from $5,000 – $15,000 per person. This means that you and your spouse will be spending a minimum of $10,000 just to get started with the divorce process. After your attorneys have been paid the retainer fee, they start billing against that fee at a rate of $275 – $450 per hour. As you can imagine, these fees add up very quickly when you are billed for each phone call and e-mail exchange with your attorney and his or her office.
When you choose mediation, however, you have an opportunity to save a lot of money and a lot of time. When you choose to work with an attorney-mediator, that person is qualified to give you “legal information.” Legal information is different than legal advice in that the person providing it can inform you about what the law says. They may not, however, advise you on what to do with that information. For example, your attorney-mediator may inform you that California law would require that the proceeds from the sale of your home should be divided 50/50. Your attorney-mediator cannot, however, tell you and your spouse that you must split the proceeds this way. In mediation, it is up to you and your spouse to decide what is fair. If you want a similar outcome to what you would get in court, you and your spouse would simply choose to follow the law as your mediator informs you of what it says.
Many things in life require a cost – benefit analysis. In a serious matter like divorce, it is important to ask yourself whether or not the time and money you are sacrificing will bring you more of a benefit or a better outcome in the end. Even when there are negative emotions involved like fear, anger and guilt, you must still try to think long term of what is best for you and your family.
Here is a short list of the benefits of Divorce Mediation:
1. It saves you time – you do not have to waste countless hours, weeks, months, and years in court. Your process will be completed in less than six months.
2. It spares your emotions – you can deal with this conflict in a respectful, civilized manner.
3. It saves you money – mediation is a fraction of the cost of litigation no matter what!!
4. It is private – your personal facts are kept private and mediation is totally confidential.
5. It is custom – you and your spouse will decide what is best for your children and finances.