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TRADITIONAL DIVORCE v. DIVORCE MEDIATION

By Ullian Associates of The Law Firm of Ullian & Associates, P.C. on April 7, 2020

If you are considering a divorce, you should learn about your options.  In a typical divorce, each party has their own attorney and the case proceeds through the court system until the parties reach a settlement or go to trial.  This approach is what we refer to as the traditional divorce process.  Another option is mediation – the parties jointly utilize a divorce mediator to help them reach a settlement, and the parties then submit their final agreement to court to be approved by a judge. 

Mediation is generally less expensive, quicker, and more amicable than the traditional divorce process, but it does not work for everyone.  If the parties cannot communicate well, if one party makes money under the table, or one party holds unreasonable positions and refuses to negotiate, your mediation will likely fail and you will need to go through the traditional divorce process. 

For example, a potential client came in for a consultation.  She wanted to utilize mediation for her divorce.  Her spouse was self-employed, and she said he made substantially more income than they declared on their tax returns, although her spouse will deny it and she does not know the exact amount he made.  This situation is not a good case for mediation since the wife and husband are in dispute about husband’s true income.  A mediator will be unable to resolve the disagreement about husband’s true income as that is not the role of the mediator.  If husband’s income is unclear, then other issues such as child support or alimony are unlikely to get settled through mediation.

In order to determine which approach is best for your situation you may want to speak to a mediator or attorney about the situation and ask if he or she believes it is the type of situation that is well suited for mediation.  You also need to ask yourself how much you trust your spouse to disclose all of his or her financial information without any discovery being conducted. Some people like the security of knowing that an attorney is representing their interests in what can be a very difficult and confusing time in their lives and, therefore, prefer the traditional divorce process.  A mediator does not represent either party, and a mediator cannot make any binding decisions – that is for the parties to do. 

The traditional divorce process is typically more expensive than mediation since each party has an attorney representing his or her interests.  This cost is often outweighed by the benefit and comfort a party has with an attorney advocating on her or her behalf.  There is no right or wrong answer as to whether mediation is best for you.  You just need to understand that mediation is one option, and then determine if it is the best option.

For more information on divorce or to schedule your free telephone or Zoom consultation with The Law Firm of Ullian & Associates, P.C., contact us here.

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