Why Divorce Mediation Instead of Litigation?
For parents of minor children who want to know what ALL the options are when thinking about getting divorced, listen to this. A mind works best, like a parachute, when it is open. There are very creative ways to divide property and share children if both parties focus on the prize: the well-being of the children. They didn’t ask for this drama and it’s possible to protect them if you two work on it. The idea of ”working on it” may sound strange to a couple on the verge of breaking up simply because their relationship isn’t “working,” but if they have kids together, their work is never done. There will be weddings and grandchildren and vacations for the rest of your life. If you start World War 3 now, with the kids caught in the middle, they’ll have to do a lot of ducking and cover as your verbal bullets whiz overhead.
Take a step back and focus on the children. Regardless of perceived mistakes that have or have not happened to you, this is where you are now and playing the blame game may make you feel better, but it is not productive. A little rational thinking instead of making yourself a victim of your own feelings is what is most needed right now. The more you focus on anger, the more anger you will feel. Now focus on the children. Who has been the main caregiver? If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom or dad, guess what, you’ll probably have to go back to work because you won’t get enough support to continue living the life you’ve been charged with. So if you’re both working, then you really have a chance to see a joint custody situation. It’s hard to raise a child alone. Sometimes you really need a break for your own good.
5/2 2/5. This is a very popular child sharing plan that gives children a consistency that is dependent. One parent always takes Monday and Tuesday, while the other parent always takes Wednesday and Thursday and the weekends come and go. This means that you will never be away from your child for more than 5 days at a time. Sometimes the weekend goes to Monday/Tuesday and sometimes it goes to Wednesday/Thursday. Having plenty of time with and without the kids allows you to plan a personal and work life that many people enjoy.
On the financial side, if you have a bitter, uncooperative, self-employed spouse, try to rally support. It’s impossible unless they want to pay you. This is going to be a fight to the finish and he’ll probably never get what he’s owed. The last thing you want is to go to war with such a person. So now we talk about the most important decision you will make. What kind of divorce do you want? Some people want to go with guns blazing. There are MANY attorneys who love clients like this because they know they can make a lot of money off of you. But if you have a spouse who is self-employed, you NEED their cooperation. You know what your grandmother used to say about catching more flies with honey. A lengthy, expensive, contentious divorce will not produce a viable outcome when the party owing support is self-employed. They will go to great lengths and do so much creative accounting that you will end up paying them.
We create our lives from our intention. That may sound counterintuitive. You didn’t mean for your marriage to end, did you? Good intention is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. If both of you intend to break up as cooperatively and generously as possible, you will BOTH be better off financially and emotionally. I always tell people the same thing, you can divide the cake two or four ways. How do you get more? When you use divorce mediation, you eliminate the lawyers. The average fee in California, when both parties have their own attorneys, is $20,000 each, but the truth is, the more you stand to lose, the higher your fee will be. California divorce attorneys are the only types of attorneys whose fees are protected by the equity of your home. They KNOW they are getting paid. Do you think the case will take longer or will it resolve itself quickly when you have a lot of assets? Human nature being what it is, certain attorneys will make sure the case is not settled until there is nothing left to fight for. If you want more details, read Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. Nothing has changed since the 19th century.
The vast majority of people know what they have. There are no hidden Swiss bank accounts in most divorce cases; however, attorneys will spend thousands of dollars to discover, take depositions, and serve subpoenas. Why buy more than you need? Would you do that with a house or a car? Why would I do it with a divorce? I’m not saying mediation is for everyone, but if the two of you are decent people who just want to date, no one is trying to hurt the other, and you’re both honest and trustworthy about money with enough honor to keep your word, then you’re the one. perfect client for mediation.
Divorce is a transition that has its challenges, but an experienced mediator will help you in a way that is peaceful and respectful to both of you. Mediation prices are determined by experience and location, so make multiple calls, interview multiple mediators to ensure you are fully informed. In my own practice, the whole process, on average, takes 4-7 hours, but there is some homework that needs to be done before you work with me. Ask the mediator what percentage of his cases settle and how many meetings he took. In California, the average cost when both parties have their own attorney is $40,000, so what the mediator charges will be a small fraction of that. The financial benefits of mediation are obvious, but more importantly, you will feel comfortable enough with your spouse to share in raising your children. This is the best gift you can give your children. I should know, I was one of those kids caught in the middle. That’s why I do what I do. Using mediation instead of litigation brings some sanity back to the divorce process because the adversarial system destroys families. So ask yourself, what kind of divorce do you want? Peaceful divorce is an idea whose time has come.