The formal process of divorce can be incredibly stressful, expensive, and protracted when divorcing spouses go to trial. Many couples throughout California and the US are opting for alternative dispute resolution to save time and money with their divorce. Additionally, alternative dispute resolution for dissolution offers the chance to privately negotiate divorce in a low-pressure setting.
What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative dispute resolution for divorce is similar to settlement negotiation in a civil case, such as a personal injury claim. The most commonly utilized form of alternative dispute resolution in divorce is mediation. This process involves both divorcing spouses meeting privately with a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator’s job is to facilitate a civil and productive negotiation that allows the divorcing spouses to draft a mutually agreeable divorce order.
Mediation offers several tangible benefits over traditional divorce litigation. If you plan to divorce in the near future, it is vital to consider the value of divorce mediation and the benefits this form of alternative dispute resolution could provide compared to the cost, time, and stress that divorce litigation entails.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Every divorcing couple should consider the value divorce mediation can provide. Even when divorcing spouses cannot fathom having civil discussions with one another, it is ultimately best for them to put personal issues aside so they can reach swifter conclusions to their divorce proceedings through mediation. The major advantages of divorce mediation in California include:
- Privacy. When you litigate divorce in a California family court, everything said during each court appearance becomes part of the public record. It’s relatively easy for anyone to look up court proceedings and read the transcripts, and many divorces involve very personal issues that divorcing spouses would typically prefer to keep private. If you opt for mediation, everything said during every mediation session is entirely confidential. Your mediator will help you draft a divorce order, and once approved, the record of your divorce will become public record, but all of the negotiations that took place during your mediation process will remain entirely private.
- Expediency. Mediation is much faster than divorce litigation. Even a seemingly simple divorce case has the potential to drag on for months or even more than a year in some cases. By comparison, it’s possible to complete divorce mediation in a matter of weeks or a few months. You and your spouse will decide the pace of your mediation sessions, and the more agreeable the two of you can be during each session, the more both of you will ultimately save in legal fees.
- Control. Perhaps the most important benefit to pursuing divorce mediation instead of litigation is the fact that you retain much more control over the outcome of your divorce. If a judge oversees divorce litigation, they ultimately have the final say in the outcome of your divorce. The judge will not have the frame of reference to address you and your spouse’s respective goals and expectations, and the final terms of your divorce will adhere strictly to state law. By comparison, mediation can allow you and your spouse to reach a more personalized set of terms for your divorce.
- Lower Cost. Divorce litigation can be incredibly expensive. You will need to pay attorneys’ fees for every phase of litigation, and the longer your case lasts, the more you can expect to pay by the end of the case. Mediation does not necessarily require you to have legal counsel, but it is still wise to have an experienced family law attorney on your side throughout your mediation sessions. However, even if you have your lawyer with you for every single mediation session, you will still ultimately pay much less in attorneys’ fees than you could expect in litigation.
Many divorcing couples in California recognize these benefits and strive to take advantage of mediation to the fullest extent possible.
What Happens If My Spouse and I Cannot Agree on Everything in Mediation?
Virtually every divorce is contested to a degree, and while it may be unfathomable to you to think of civilly discussing property division or spousal support with your ex, the reality is that it is entirely possible when you work with an experienced California divorce attorney. Your attorney can provide objective professional guidance throughout mediation and provide an additional layer of security over your divorce proceedings.
If you and your spouse cannot agree to everything you must settle through mediation, your attorney can help you streamline your divorce proceedings as much as possible by helping you and your spouse take advantage of mediation for every possible issue before moving to litigation to settle the rest of your divorce.
Ending your marriage can be incredibly difficult, but it will be much easier when you take advantage of alternative dispute resolution like mediation. If you are interested in mediating your impending divorce, contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rodgers to find out how our firm can assist you.