What Is the Downside to Divorce Mediation?

Divorce is already a complicated and upsetting time, and even couples who wish for a fair parting of ways can find it difficult to settle things with just each other. Divorce mediation can offer you an alternative dispute resolution as to how to settle questions and reach an agreement between participants with help from a third party. However, there are many factors to consider regarding mediation before you decide if it’s the right path and solution that will work for your specific situation.

The Process of Divorce Mediation

Once participants have selected a mediator, that mediator goes through the facts and documents regarding the divorce and answers any questions that the two of you may have. A mediator is an objective third party with an agenda to reconcile your divorce. Their specific agenda comes with parsing through necessary documents, compiling assets and liabilities, and gathering other important information. Using this information, they’ll give you their best recommendation on how to divide the assets and liabilities between the two of you.

Negatives to Mediation

There are well-known positives to mediation: you can receive assistance as you navigate the complicated and confusing issues of your divorce, which can make the experience less stressful. Mediation is also the less expensive option when compared to taking your divorce to court and allows for a more controlled schedule and outcome than a court schedule or ruling. Unless the mediation is court-ordered, divorce mediation is also voluntary, which can allow you more freedom and independence during the process. This independence that each of you holds in the situation can lead to more amicable discussions and a faster and better resolution.

However, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of before you choose mediation. It is not the perfect solution for every couple, and it’s important to take your specific circumstances into account before deciding the route you wish to take. Every divorce is different, and each needs its own careful consideration. There are plenty of negatives to divorce mediation of which to be aware.

  1. A Mediator Is Not Your AttorneyMediation utilizes an objective third party, so you won’t have someone arguing for you specifically or negotiating your best interests, as you would with your attorney. It’s not legal advice; it’s just an agreement with an overseer, which means you won’t receive the same legal protections.It’s not a mediator’s job to look out for only your best interests or advise you the way it is a lawyer’s; mediators simply want to find an equitable solution. For example, if your spouse has hidden assets, an attorney can use the investigation to discover them, while a mediator would be unable to find them. However, hiring an attorney to mediate will provide you with an objective party that has the legal experience necessary to properly mediate.
  2. Meditation Does Not Provide a Guaranteed Fair OutcomeWhile both parties can mutually work towards a fair solution, and a mediator is there to help that along, this doesn’t make certain a fair outcome. If one or both of you is unable to speak for your own needs and wishes, it’s unlikely that those issues will be resolved at all. Both of you have to be willing and capable of representing your own interests, but even this may not lead to a fair outcome. Mediation is also not the only way to resolve your divorce amicably outside of court. If you each hire divorce attorneys, you can have discussions outside of court, with each of you represented by someone who is knowledgeable about the situation and considerate of many complications, who is representing your interests and is on your side.
  3. Both Participants Must Be Willing to CommunicateMediation is not helpful for couples with unbalanced relationships where one participant is prone to manipulation, bullying, or even simply higher aggression. A power imbalance in negotiations where both parties represent themselves will leave one spouse unprotected. Unwilling and uncooperative couples will also make divorce mediation impossible. If both parties fail to communicate with each other or with the mediator, divorce mediation is going to be a waste of time, effort, and money. Divorce mediation is not to be used in abuse or other urgent situations.
  4. A Submitted Settlement Is Legally BindingWhile mediation is a lower-stress environment than court, the results can still be legally enforceable. It’s important to know going in whether you would like an informal agreement or a legal one. Together, your mediator will work with you to create a settlement agreement. Once submitted and approved by a judge, the agreement is legally binding.
  5. Mediation Failure Will Prolong the ProcessFailure of mediation will prolong the inevitable process of hiring divorce lawyers. If mediation doesn’t work out, you may have to hire an attorney anyway, making the overall process take much longer and be more expensive. If you don’t think your problems can be solved through mediation, it’s more effective and efficient to get right to hiring attorney representation.

How to Know If Mediation Is Right For You

It can be hard to look objectively at your divorce and relationship to see if mediation is the right call. To get a better understanding of your legal and personal circumstances, contact a family law or divorce attorney. This way, you can receive consultation from an objective party who can answer any questions regarding legal or personal worries about children, property division, support of spouses legally or monetarily, and the specifics of California divorce law.

Be Sure That You Have an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

During the difficult navigation of divorce, it’s important to be sure that all factors and complications are taken into consideration. If you are experiencing a divorce, a divorce lawyer will help advise you on the right course of action. Legal counsel is vital to understanding if mediation is right for your situation. For divorce counsel with proper care and consideration of your circumstances, look to Paula D. Kleinman for an attorney. Contact us today to see what impact the effectiveness of mediation could have on your divorce.

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