Family law mediation presents a way for parties to maintain control of
the speed, cost and outcome of their divorce.
One of the most significant benefits of mediation is that it allows you
to bypass the court's bureaucracy. Your case proceeds on your timetable,
and can move as quickly or as slowly as you and your spouse desire. Appointments
are scheduled directly with the mediator, and you don't have to deal
with an individual judge's hectic courtroom calendar.
Although, by law, an action for dissolution of marriage cannot be fully
disposed of in less than six months, there is nothing that prevents you
and your spouse from coming to an agreement sooner. For instance, once
agreement is reached, it can be formalized and signed by the parties.
Your mediator can submit the paperwork to the court and your dissolution
will be processed as soon as the six month "waiting period" expires.
The cost of family law mediation is another huge plus. Rather than each
party retaining their own attorney, a mediator is retained jointly. The
parties can choose to split the fees, or not. What's most important
is that whoever is paying, the mediator works for both of you.
Mediation sessions are scheduled in advance, and all discussions and negotiations
occur with the parties present. This means that you always know what you're
paying for, and a good mediator will explain the process to you in great
detail. A mediator will certainly need to prepare for sessions, review
financials and draft the final agreement. But a mediator generally won't
spend time having telephone conversations or sending e-mails to just one
party. This lowers costs and helps the parties shape their expectations.
When you proceed with a litigated divorce, the judge must follow the Family
Code. This sounds straightforward, almost black and white, but the reality
is quite the opposite. Think of it this way: if the code was that clear,
a lot of attorneys would be out of work.
Our laws are subject to interpretation and argument, and the practice of
family law is fact-driven. Each case is different, and doesn't follow
a precise mold. Mediation offers an advantage. It allows for negotiation,
avoids judicial arguments and lets you maintain control over the outcome
of your divorce.
A old saying is that mediation allows you to bargain within the shadow
of the law. A good mediator should tell you what the law says about your
case, but should also push you to consider alternatives. A family law
case is a lot like a puzzle that can be solved in a multitude of ways.
With mediation, you make the decisions about how your case will be resolved
while being guided by a trained professional.