Sven Buncher Certified Family Law Specialist

Contemplating Divorce? When Is Mediation the Right Choice?

In the realm of family law many cases are resolved without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom. The choice then is not about whether mediation is the best option, but whether it’s the best option for you and your spouse. Mediation, a method where parties come together with a neutral mediator to resolve disputes, can be highly effective. However, its success hinges on a variety of factors making it essential to evaluate the circumstances before choosing this route. 

The attitude of the parties involved is paramount. If there is a fundamental level of trust and no underlying hostility, mediation stands a good chance of success. Both parties must genuinely want to end the relationship and be ready to resolve the pertinent issues. Furthermore, the absence of domestic violence is crucial, ensuring a safe environment for negotiation. 

Transparency is key, especially concerning financial matters. For mediation to be effective, both parties must be open and honest about their financial disclosures. 

Being aware of the challenges that could arise in mediation scenarios is key to determining if it is the best route. If one of the parties owns a business, which is a substantial part of the marital assets, its evaluation often requires the expertise of a third-party. If the parties have a CPA or financial advisor they work with it is important that this person is neutral and not loyal to one party.  Often resolving family law issues requires the help of third-party professionals.  The choice of these third-party experts is critical as biases can skew the process. 

Another hurdle arises when there isn’t equal access to financial records. If one party feels that the other might not be forthcoming, it creates an atmosphere of distrust. Before engaging in mediation, it’s imperative to ensure that the mediator is equipped with all the necessary information to fully comprehend the case issues and financial intricacies. This includes providing access to financial disclosures and clear desires regarding custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support.  A good mediator will have you work with a paralegal, third-party financial expert and/ or themselves to properly prepare and set expectations for productive mediation sessions. 

Crucially, the mediator’s role is not to provide legal advice to either party. Instead, their purpose is to facilitate communication and resolution. In complex cases, having a mediation consultant who is also an attorney can be invaluable. Such a consultant can advise parties about their individual rights, ensuring they make informed decisions during negotiation. 

In the context of mediation, achieving 100% fairness for both parties is improbable. Mediation involves a process of give and take where compromises are made. The goal is to reach a settlement that, while not perfect, is agreeable to both parties. Another positive outcome is that a mediated resolution generally comes at a significantly lower cost than battling it out in a courtroom. 

Mediation can be the right choice when parties are willing to collaborate, trust is present, and both are ready to bring an end to the relationship. It’s a method that emphasizes communication, understanding, and compromise. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances involved. When approached with the right attitude, openness, and the necessary professional guidance, mediation can provide a pathway to resolution that is both cost-effective and satisfactory for all parties involved.

Posted in Mediation.