Some people think mediation is only right for those who have already decided and agreed how they are going to divide everything- including the kids. The reality is that mediation works for people who don’t know how they want to divide their marital estate or what arrangements they want to make for their kids. At the core of the mediation process is education and self-determination of outcome. For example, once a couple is educated on their statutory rights and obligations on child support, they can decide they are going to follow the law exactly, or they can “opt out” of the child support law by agreeing to child support payments that work for their situation- resulting in either more or less than the law would calculate.
Having conflict in your relationship doesn’t mean you can’t choose the route of mediation. Every couple in mediation has one or more area (sometimes many) in which they have very different and very strong opinions or objectives. So long as people come to mediation with a willingness to learn from the mediator and from each other this process will work for them. Sometimes the only thing couples in mediation can agree on is that they don’t want or can’t afford for their matter to be litigated. Even one point of agreement can serve as the foundation of an eventual settlement.
People who mediate their Settlement Agreement have their rights protected. Participants in mediation have to complete financial affidavits and provide the documents that back up the numbers they put into their affidavits. Properties can be appraised and experts can be brought into the mediation if needed. They always have the right to be represented by counsel throughout the mediation and certainly at the end of the process before they sign their agreement. Even providing for all of this, the total cost of mediation is almost always less than litigation, by far.
Please feel free to leave a comment on LinkedIn with any topics you may want to learn more about. If there is a part of the process that you don’t understand, or have heard conflicting information from friends and family, let me know and your question may make it into a future post.