Divorce can be an expensive proposition – in money, time and emotion. When you think about divorce, it’s easy to imagine a psychologically draining, long, drawn out process that ends in frustration. It doesn’t have to be. That is where mediation can help.
#1 Mediation calms things down.
Engaging a mediator, a neutral third party whose role is to protect everyone’s rights and best interests, indicates that you and your spouse are both invested in finding the kindest, fairest, most expeditious path to uncoupling. Enlisting attorneys to represent your separate interests sends the signal that you are ready fight. Colorado, along with most states, does not require you to have legal representation to obtain a divorce, and mediation provides you with a non–adversarial environment to come to your own decisions regarding your future. Experienced divorce mediators are well versed in the law, and able to point out what is considered legally fair when dividing assets, and custody issues, no matter how complex.
#2 Mediation is empowering.
Waiting by the phone for the call from your lawyer to tell you what your spouse’s lawyer said can make you feel paranoid, suspicious, and out of control of your own destiny. In mediation, the parties communicate with each other rather than through their representative. When you work with a mediator, you’ll find a neutral third-party who is deeply invested in helping you and your spouse come to an agreement that you can feel good about. Your mediator will take the time to inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities, so that both parties are clear. Once you know what you are entitled to and responsible for, it’s much easier to make positive, forward-moving decisions that lead to amicable divorce.
# 3 Mediation is legally binding.
Once your mediator has helped you and your spouse come to an agreement, the agreement is put in writing, signed, notarized and filed with the court. The agreement is then seen as an Order of the Court… If either spouse violates the terms of the agreement, they will be subject to a Contempt of Court proceeding, just as it would be had you used lawyers. In addition, the courts are more likely to enforce a mediated order, as it was crafted by and mutually agreed upon by both parties.
#4 Mediation is better for the kids.
If you have children, a mediator will assist you and your spouse in creating a parenting plan that includes both the custodial and financial obligations affecting your children. This is a great opportunity to fashion a plan that works in real life for your whole family. While divorce is always difficult for children, this is a great way to demonstrate that you’re putting them first by working together as mindful co-parents.
#5 Mediation is Cheaper.
Separating one life into two takes a major financial toll no matter how well-off you are. Most mediators do not require a retainer and their fees are generally significantly lower than a lawyer’s, and are split between both parties. Your mediator will charge you for your working sessions while you come to an agreement, and a fee for preparing your paperwork for submission to the court. At the end of mediation, you should feel satisfied that you came to an agreement that works for you, your children and your future, saved a lot of money, and spared yourself the trauma of a legal battle.