Why Should I Give Divorce Mediation a Chance?
Getting a divorce is a stressful time in anyone’s life, even when you’re on good terms with the person from which you’re separating. There’s the hassle of dividing assets, of finding a new home, dealing with child custody, not to mention the legal fees of going to court. However, there is an alternate way of undergoing the divorce process that can take less time, less money, and save you from too much stress – mediation or arbitration. Without going to court, these processes help find equitable solutions for both parties involved in the divorce in a calm and private setting.
What is mediation?
If you and your ex have a civil relationship with each other, then mediation is a good option for you. Mediation is when you and your partner meet privately with a neutral mediator to discuss the terms of your divorce agreement. During mediation, issues such as child support, custody, property division, spousal support, and parenting plans are negotiated. Mediation is usually a voluntary process, and a judge may rule that the process go to court instead if the relationship between you and your ex is strenuous one, such as one that involved domestic abuse, child abuse, or substance abuse. If the mediation process does not work, and no agreement is reached, then the divorce will move on to the court.
During mediation, each party has their own attorney with whom they talk about what they’re looking to gain from this agreement individually. Then, once you’ve done that, both parties and the mediator will come together in private (without attorneys present) to negotiate the terms of the agreement. The mediator’s job is to keep the meeting focused and smooth. The mediator is on no one’s side, as they fill a neutral role in these discussions. Once an agreement is made, the mediator drafts an agreement and sends it to your attorney to review. For finalization, the agreement moves onto the court for approval and formalization.
What is arbitration?
Similar to mediation, arbitration is another form of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) that takes place in private. It is similar to court in that there is an arbitrator instead of a mediator, and the arbitrator acts like a judge in a courtroom by making the final decision in your divorce process. The arbitrator makes the final decision on things like child custody and property division, just as a judge would do in the courtroom. Once the arbitrator makes their decision, it is brought to a court for finalization and approval. The main difference between arbitration and mediation is that in mediation, the divorcing parties are in control of the meeting, whereas in arbitration, the arbitrator is in control, and acts as a private judge.
What are the benefits of mediation and arbitration?
In choosing mediation or arbitration, you’ll find there are several benefits that it has over going to court.
- More control. ADR gives you more control over the outcome of your process. You and your ex decide the terms of your divorce with the advice and guidance to help make this process easier.
- To put it plainly, it’s an easier process, especially when children are involved. There’s more communication in mediation, therefore smoothing the process along.
- Time and cost. Going to court for a trial is an intimidating, costly, and timely process. Settling disputes with mediation in a private setting, can save time and money for everyone involved.
- If you don’t want all your dirty laundry to air out in public, so to speak, then mediation and arbitration is good for keeping your arguments and the details of said arguments private. In court, everything is a matter of public record. During ADR, all of your discussions and negotiations are kept private and confidential. Your reputation remains out of the public eye.
- The agreement reached during your ADR is as final as any court decision. There are certain circumstances under which you can modify your agreement, but overall what you decide together, or what your arbitrator decides is final.
Alternate dispute resolutions are a good choice for those with a polite and civil relationship with their spouses. Mediation and arbitration can truly take a lot of the hassle and stress out of what could be an expensive and headache-inducing process. Simply speak with our Charlotte divorce lawyers, and let them help you solve your disputes in a calm and organized way that will clear up the often complex and confusing laws of divorce, making the process itself easy and simple.
At the Epperson Law Group PLLC, our legal team will work with you to accomplish your goals, and come to an agreement that’s right for you. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Concord, Boone, and Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.
Steven B. Ockerman is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Washington University School of Law. He has practiced law for over 25 years, concentrating on family law matters for over 16 years, and is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law since 2009.
Find out more about Steven B. Ockerman