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Why Should I Mediate My Divorce?

Couple going through mediation process

By Alice Ahearn, Partner, Family Law Practice and Pro Bono Practice Chair

Cost. Control. Flexibility.   

These are three of the primary reasons why mediation is a great choice for divorcing couples. Not every divorce is an epic battle. Many couples, especially in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., include two working spouses, who each bring in their own income and a marital estate that include: a house, retirement accounts, savings and vehicles. There are relatively few ways of allocating these assets and the division can usually be decided between the parties with the assistance of a trained mediator.   

Understanding the Primary Reasons for Choosing Mediation in Divorce

In mediation, the parties meet with the mediator over the course of several sessions to come up with mutually agreed terms to divide their shared financial assets and address custody and support, if applicable.   

Working Together: Crafting Terms Through Mediation

During the sessions the mediator will listen to input from both spouses and work with the spouses to craft an agreement and compromises that best suit the needs of the family. The mediator does not represent either spouse and does not take sides. The mediator can meet with both spouses for each session or have individual sessions with either spouses if the circumstances require.  

Full Financial Disclosure in Divorce Mediation

Mediation requires a full financial disclosure on the part of both spouses. This means that each party is required to fill out a form disclosing their assets and then provide statements for the accounts as requested by the other party or the mediator.   

Professional Advice: The Role of Legal Counsel in Mediation

In mediation, the mediator will recommend that each spouse obtain their own counsel to provide legal advice and review the final agreement.  

The Cost Benefits of Mediation Over Traditional Divorce Process

Mediation involves hiring the services of just one person to go over the financials and craft an agreement, versus in a traditional divorce process where each party hires their own attorney and information is exchanged, reviewed by counsel and agreements go back and forth with potentially many revisions being made. This can be extremely costly.  

At the Geller Law Group, we ask that the parties agree as to how the costs are to be shared as part of the agreement to mediate.  This usually involves the parties agreeing to use marital funds to pay for the services of the mediator and can alleviate substantial concerns about the costs of a divorce.   

Keeping Your Privacy: Mediation as a Confidential Process

Separation and divorce are very private matters. Many people want to keep control of who knows what about their family affairs and want to resolve the disagreements of their marriage in a private setting. In mediation, sharing of information is entirely within the control of the married parties, unlike in litigation, and the mediator is a facilitator who follows their lead to reach resolution, unlike in Court where a judge decides the issue for you.  

Flexibility and Control: Key Advantages of Mediation

In mediation, you can decide in what order to handle issues and move at a pace that is comfortable for both parties. For example, the parties could decide a custody schedule and how to tell their children about the divorce before working on the financial issues.

Alternatively, the parties could work out the financial issues and where they can afford to live before discussing the divorce with their children once the parents have a better sense of what they can afford on a long-term basis.  

This leads into the issue of flexibility. In a traditional divorce process involving litigation, there is very little flexibility. The Court has certain powers and must follow a very limiting set of rules (laws) in how it deals with divorcing parties. In mediation, the parties can decide how they want to resolve their financial and custodial issues using what the Court has the ability to do as a factor or decide to ignore that entirely.

The parties also have the ability to a pause or change direction if the discussions don’t work for one or both parties. In a litigated divorce, it is very difficult if not impossible to pause or change direction.

The Logistics of Mediation Sessions: Virtual Vs. In-Person

Mediation can take place either virtually or in person and sessions can range from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the wishes of the parties. Mediation can take several months or several weeks depending on the complexity of the issues and level of disagreement between the parties.  

Contact Experienced Mediators at Geller Law Group for More Information

If you’re interested in learning more about the mediation process, please reach out to one of our experienced mediators at The Geller Law Group to learn more.

See related: Mastering Family Law Mediation: An Effective Roadmap for Striking a Balance

Alice Ahearn

Alice AhearnPartner
OFFICE: 703-687-6188 ext. 118
DIRECT: 703-982-6926
aahearn@thegellerlawgroup.com

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