Will Divorce Mediation Work? Is it right for my Divorce?
We get a lot of calls from people who ask, “will divorce mediation work for me?” Mediation is great when it works, but it’s not the best route for every case. To help you figure out whether mediation is right for your case, consider the list of questions below.
Can we communicate with each other?
The track record of communication does not need to be perfect. It can include arguments and shouting. However, if you and your spouse have the ability and desire to listen to each other enough to meaningfully discuss how to disentangle your lives, mediation is an option worth exploring.
Do we have concerns about the cost of divorce?
While there are exceptions, usually mediating a divorce costs just a fraction of what litigating a divorce costs. For every free initial consultation we have, the question of how much it’ll cost to handle the case comes up. Largely, the answer depends on the level of conflict in the case. The level of conflict translates into more time that we have to spend before a case reaches a final resolution. The path chosen can have a very significant impact on the final bill, as well as the level of satisfaction after the process ends.
One consumer survey concluded that the average cost of legal fees for litigated divorces (cases where one spouse files a complaint for divorce) was $12,800 for cases that are settled prior to trial. That is per spouse. So, if each spouse has his and her own attorney, the total legal fees on average would be $25,600 without a trial. For litigated divorces that go through a trial, that same survey found that the average cost for legal fees increased to $15,800 per spouse.
Mediation, on the other hand, is usually far less expensive than litigated divorces. While each spouse can hire his or her own attorney to provide legal advice during the process, that cost is in almost all circumstances less than the cost of representation during a litigated divorce.
At Turco Legal, P.C., we charge for mediation meetings and document preparation by the hour. Most cases that we’ve dealt with are resolved between two and five meetings. That roughly translates into $1,000 to $2,500 total.
Would we prefer to maintain some level of civility after the divorce is over?
Litigation is an adversarial process. This means if your case goes to a trial, a judge will ultimately decide how your post-divorce life will look. This may include how often you see your children, how much support you or your spouse will pay, and the “who gets what” of your and your spouse’s assets. With mediation, you and your spouse control all of that. This can be helpful when the two of you bump into each other in the future. The mediator is working with both of you to reach an agreement that is both fair and reasonable. When successful, crafting an agreement that both spouses feel is fair and reasonable can establish a positive environment for approaching nearly any conflict that may arise in the future. Will divorce mediation work? Maybe the better question is, will my life work well after the divorce is complete?
Would we like to control the speed of the process?
If up to a court, the court will treat your case from the beginning just like every other case. Unless you file a motion, it will be months before your case is ever in front of a judge. With mediation, you and your spouse can meet as frequently (or not) as you would like. If there are any time-sensitive issues, those can be addressed as quickly as you, your spouse, and the mediator can meet. With a litigated divorce, you may have to wait weeks for a motion to be heard by a judge.
How much do each of you value having control over the process?
By control, we do not mean that one spouse controls the process over the other. Rather, how much value do you and your spouse place on you both controlling the parameters of the discussion, the pace and substance of the meetings, and establishing a mechanism for future dispute resolution? A court hearing doesn’t always result in a final resolution of an issue in dispute. However, with mediation, you and your spouse control the agenda, the frequency, and the results.
Will divorce mediation work? It’s really up to you and your spouse. When you can work as problem-solvers, with the help of a great divorce mediator, you certainly set yourself up for a more enjoyable, more efficient experience.