One of the main differences between taking your divorce to court and using mediation is the main concern of both. While the end goal is the same in both situations (divorce) going to court means that you or your spouse are concerned with your legal rights. Also, you are interested in determining how the law will apply to your disagreements. To this end, a judge will make decisions for you in a court case.
On the other hand, mediation focuses on you and your spouse’s needs in divorce. Mediation is about understanding your own needs and those of your spouse’s. Then, you have to communicate to determine how best to meet these needs. As a result, you and your spouse will determine solutions to your problems on your own. Keep in mind that this means that mediation will only work if you and your spouse come to a mutual agreement.
What is Mediation?
A mediator is a third party who sits down with both spouses in order to help them talk through the stressful details of a divorce. A mediator wants to make the process of divorce as painless as possible. They are a professional trained to help resolve conflicts that may arise over all kinds of issues in divorce such as dividing assets and debt, child support, child visitation rights, parenting, and more. A mediator will not work for just one spouse, they will work for both spouses in order to help the process along as smoothly as possible.
During mediation, you or your spouse will have the opportunity to have a lawyer present, so that you can feel confident in the decisions you are making or refer to a professional attorney with any questions. Mediators are not interested in settlements and do not try to force a couple to settle. Mediators will merely ensure that an agreement is reached that pleases both parties. There are many benefits to using mediation as a method for coping with divorce.
One of the most important impacts that mediation can have is on the child. If you are not stressed about who will get what in the divorce, and if you aren’t angry at your spouse for taking certain things, this will reflect in the way you address your children about your spouse. Even with a divorce happening, children do not want to hear one parent say bad things about another, and keeping everyone calm will provide a stable and loving environment for the child.
Furthermore, you can avoid high costs that a litigated divorce would require and avoid unnecessary court battles. Taking the time to work out the details of an agreement before a divorce will help keep everyone happy in the long run. Mediation is all about keeping you and your family as stress free as possible during a divorce. While divorce is never an easy thing to come to terms with, allowing a mediator to help both parties get what they want outside of the Courtroom will help keep everyone as happy as possible.
Is it Too Late for Mediation?
The truth is that even if you have started a court divorce process, if you and your spouse are still legally married, it is never too late to try mediation. Couples going through a divorce rarely see eye to eye on all subject matters. There is a reason you and your spouse are getting a divorce. You two just aren’t on the same page any longer and that can lead to problems dividing assets and such. Mediation is a good way to find some common ground on decisions that need to be made at the time of divorce.
The only time at which mediation is no longer an option is if your divorce and divorce agreement have already been settled and put into place. You should consider entering mediation instead of going to court because it can cost thousands less than if you were to get a judge involved. If you have any questions or wish to speak to an experienced divorce attorney or mediator, you may contact my office here. I have experience both representing clients in divorce court, and acting as a mediator to settle a divorce without involving the court.
Tips for Dealing with Your Spouse in Mediation
The first way to get the most out of mediation is by hiring an attorney. It can be helpful to have an attorney present at the mediation. You will have someone there who can support you and make sure that your rights are protected. From a legal standpoint, you can rest assured that you won’t agree to anything that is not in your best interest. And, from an emotional standpoint, it can be helpful to have someone supporting you and looking out for your best interest.
Then you should establish a game plan. You should go into mediation with a goal. Understand that you probably won’t get every single thing that you want in mediation. There are some things that you will have to compromise on. Think about your deal breakers that you won’t change your mind on. Also think about what you are willing to compromise on. Do this before you get to mediation so that you can be prepared for this meeting.
You also need to prepare to deal with your spouse. You should also prepare before you get to mediation to deal with your spouse. Try to remain calm and communicate with your spouse while in mediation. Avoiding high emotions will be helpful for both parties. If things begin to get heated, try to take a break and diffuse the situation. Understand what your spouse wants. Try not to be blinded by your own emotions and desires. Connect with your spouse by understanding what they want out of the divorce. Also, try to find a way to give this to them.
Breaking a Mediation Agreement
Mediation can be an excellent alternative to taking a divorce case to court. However, mediation only works if both parties are open and honest about what they want and what they are willing to compromise on. Once a mediation agreement has been reached, this agreement should be followed and not haphazardly broken. Just because a judge did not make the decisions does not mean that you can just break a mediation agreement.
Have you or your ex spouse broken a once mutually agreed upon mediation agreement? If so, here is information that you need to know. One thing you need to know is that once a divorce is granted and the court approves the mediation agreement, it becomes a binding contract. That means that it is illegal to break any of the terms agreed upon in mediation. Also, if you break the terms of agreement, there are consequences.
If one party violates the agreement, the opposing party may then bring them to court in order to resolve the issue. The person who breaks the contract may be sued for breach of contract.
Some acts that breach the contract are also considered illegal. For example, in the event of child care, some acts that may breach a mediation contract, such as taking a child on vacation without the other parent’s knowledge/permission, will be considered kidnapping. Some divorce agreements require one parent to ask permission from the other to bring their child out of the state/country. If one parent fails to do so, they will be breaking their mediation agreement and may be sued as a result of that.
A few common mediation agreement violations include failure to:
- Pay alimony.
- Pay child support.
- Abide by custody decisions.
- Abide by restraining orders.
- Give up property that belongs to the other spouse.
- Take on rightful debt.
If your ex has violated your mediation agreement, you should contact a lawyer. Also consider taking the case to court in order to have your ex reprimanded. Another option that you have if a mediation agreement is broken is to meet with your ex and come to a new agreement. That agreement must then be submitted to a judge and approved in order for it to become a legal contract. The new agreement should be approved by both spouses before it become a legal contract.
The act of breaking a mediation agreement has many legal consequences associated with it. You may be entitled to sue your ex spouse for breaking the contract you two agreed upon during mediation. If you have any questions about mediation agreements, you may contact my office here.