Written by Jennifer Beckman, www.Beckman-Steen.com
For many couples, the traditional adversarial divorce may not be the one-size-fits all divorce solution that is appropriate for their personal situation.
Often thought of as a traditional divorce, an adversarial divorce is one in which the two sides hire attorneys and settle their differences in a courtroom with a judge presiding over the process.
As the term implies, the spouses in an adversarial divorce view each other as adversaries. Often one spouse feels wronged by the other, and the couple is taking part in this legal action due to the fact that the two sides can’t come to an equitable agreement over such things as asset division without judicial intervention.
However, for couples who have no major issues of contention regarding ending their marriage and are simply looking for a simple, fair, and equitable way to divide their assets there is a much easier form of divorce available known as a mediation divorce.
In a mediation, the couple meets with a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator is normally not a lawyer but simply a neutral individual that both sides has accepted to mediate their divorce settlement.
The mediator sole role is to help the divorcing couple to find common ground and to reach a divorce settlement than both sides can agree is fair. The mediator’s job is not to provide legal advice, nor are most mediators knowledgeable enough in legal matters to do so.
The mediation model is perfect for couples with no major disputes who wish to dissolve their marriage in a civil, private proceeding outside of the court.
One of the great attractions of a mediation divorce – neither side is represented by attorneys and neither side involves attorneys in the process of creating a fair settlement – is also one of mediation’s greatest weaknesses.
A divorce is minefield of potential legal matters that may not surface for years after the divorce, legal matters which the mediator will be ill-equipped both to recognize and to advise the divorcing couple on.
Having an experienced divorce attorney take part in mediation to guide you through the process and avoid potential pitfalls is critical to a truly fair mediation.
Consulting attorneys can help explain the ramifications of any potential settlement and help guide you to making the best decision for your future.
Legal representation can also spare the couple future ill will that may occur if one spouse later decides that the mediation agreement was not as fair to them as they originally thought.
Representation can also prevent a situation where the two sides have spent considerable time putting together a mediation, only to have it fall apart when one spouse or the other decides to consult with an attorney before finalizing the agreement.
Consulting attorneys in a mediation divorce understand that the very nature of a mediation is that both sides want to work collaboratively to reach a settlement that both sides will accept as fair and equitable.
Consulting attorneys will also strive to keep the process on-track, equitable and fair, and free of any of the drama and rancor normally found in an adversarial divorce.
Divorce is a complicated, painful legal process that should never be undertaken without the advice of an experienced divorce attorney.