Choosing to divorce does not automatically mean that families have to engage in a contentious battle over property or child custody. Every divorcing couple has the option of cooperating to set their own settlement terms. One of the more common ways that people reach a settlement related to property division, support and custody concerns is via mediation.
People hire their own lawyers and then sit down with a professional mediator to resolve their disagreements. There are numerous benefits of mediation that make it a great solution for many couples that are facing divorce. There’s also one notable drawback that people should familiarize themselves with before making a decision either way.
Mediation eliminates one key protection
The concern in a mediated divorce is that the couple might reach an unfair settlement that does not reflect what the courts would have chosen if they litigated their property division or custody matters. For example, during a litigated divorce, a spouse who misrepresented their financial circumstances could face consequences for lying to the courts in order to receive more property from the marital estate.
However, if they were to lie about or misrepresent their assets during mediation, such actions would not constitute perjury or put them at risk of any penalty. Therefore, mediation may not be the best option for those who believe their spouse would engage in financial misconduct to manipulate the outcome of the divorce.
Mediation is much more private
The issues that lead to divorce court are often deeply personal. A change in personal values, marital infidelity or even issues with addiction can all be contributing factors to modern divorces. Some of these concerns may be issues that couples don’t want to discuss in the public setting or have preserved as part of the public record through testimony in court. However, they still believe that those issues are relevant to the term set in the divorce. Mediation allows couples to discuss these matters in a confidential setting.
Mediation allows spouses to retain their power
A judge has the final authority in the litigated divorce. They decide who has more time with the couple’s children and who keeps the marital home. It can be a very disempowering experience to have a stranger effectively make the most personal decisions for the family.
Parents who need a nuanced custody arrangement and those with very specific property division goals may benefit from considering mediation instead of going to court, provided that both parties are committed to working through their differences. Discussing the circumstances of a marriage with an experienced legal professional can help someone better determine if divorce mediation might be the right solution for their unique situation.