Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I filed my divorce petition several months ago. I was just notified that the court is about to dismiss my divorce case for inactivity. Can you give me more information about what might be going on and what steps I need to take to finalize my divorce? My spouse has not been cooperative, and I think that might be the issue.”
Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “My spouse and I are engaged in a very contentious divorce. I am trying to be rational and not spend my life savings arguing and fighting over our assets and child custodial arrangement. Do you have any suggestions to simply the divorce process and avoid the most common financial pitfalls?”
We’ve all heard the stories. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are still married and living on the same property but no longer acting like a married couple. While their rich and famous and are choosing to reside together for reasons that have nothing to do with the money, there are thousands of other couples who do not have a choice. They must live together simply because they cannot afford to get a divorce.
Recently on our legal forum a woman asked, “My husband cheated on me and I want to leave, but I do not have a job and I am responsible for caring for my three young children. Now I am trapped at home with no apparent way out. What are my options for protecting my family?”
One of the most common divorce questions is, “Who gets the kids?” But more and more couples are starting to fight over who will get to keep the family dog. And it’s no wonder. It’s estimated that more than sixty-three percent or 71.1 million U.S. households own pets and more than 44 million of those pets are dogs.
Divorce can be expensive, traumatic, pro-longed, and stressful. The good news is there are new alternative dispute resolution strategies that have been developed in the last several decades which can encourage all parties in the divorce process to play nice and resolve divorce issues fairly and less expensively.
Divorce can be devastating, especially for the spouse who has not been involved with the family’s finances. Has your spouse hidden assets or income from you? Has your spouse always made the financial decisions for your family? Has your spouse left you? If yes, you need to take steps now to protect yourself.
Collaborative divorce or conscious uncoupling, it’s all the rage these days, even in Hollywood. So while no one plans on getting divorced, if you feel you’re left with no other option collaboration rather than a winner takes all, slash and burn divorce can your best option. Unfortunately, if you’re bitter enough to walk away from a marriage it can be difficult to make collaborative decisions about how to split assets and how to amicably co-parent.
Although divorce mediation can save court time and money and help couples settle differences and plan for life after their divorce, it’s no magic bullet, and it’s not for everyone.
According to some studies, divorce mediation yields success in between 50 and 80 percent of cases, and couples save 30 to 40 percent of what it would cost for a traditional divorce, where everything is settled in court. The road to divorce is steep and difficult, so why wouldn’t you want to ease the pain and stress and get it over with as quickly as possible? For some cases, it just won’t work. Let’s examine why, and you can ask yourself which side of the fence you fall on.
Four reasons divorce mediation fails could be summed up by these “Bs”: Baggage, bravado, buttons and bravery.
Successful divorce mediations are made by couples that are truly focused on their goals for the future. In a divorce, this is not easy, what with hurt feelings, loss of trust, love, respect, a desire for revenge for past wrongs, and most ofter, lingering anger. Divorce mediation can only be successful if both parties are able to put aside “irreconcilable” differences and are able to set their sights ahead (without lingering on the past and harboring old hurt). Basically, the more time concentrated on “getting even,” the longer it will take to get ahead. For some couples there is simply too much animosity to overcome.
It is said pride always comes before a fall. A monumental mistake in divorce mediation is entering the process with your mind focused solely on what YOU want to gain. You must really soul-search and think deeply and honestly about what your ex would want and what’s important to them to build a life after divorce.
Going through a divorce and finding many points of contention? Are there some details that just can’t seem to be agreed upon? Do you find it difficult to have a conversation with your spouse – much less a civil one when discussing the end of your marriage? If so, maybe you need a referee. Or a divorce mediator.
Divorce mediation is a tool appropriate for most people who are divorcing or have family disagreements resulting from a divorce. Most marriages are at the point of divorce because of those conflicts and communication issues that have brought them to the brink. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring in an impartial third party –the divorce mediator – to help settle those differences. The divorce mediators are skilled in helping the couple negotiate amicably, despite these types of issues. The couple must be committed to the divorce mediation process and be willing to put aside personal differences for the sake of smoothing the process.
In divorce mediation, a couple works with a neutral third party divorce mediator, or sometimes, a team of two neutral third party divorce mediators, to help them make the difficult and unpleasant decisions that go along in a divorce. The couple meets with the divorce mediator over a period of weeks, or months if needed, to gather facts, discuss goals, brainstorm options and choose solutions.
While the divorce mediator guides this process, the divorcing couple makes the final decision.
A divorce mediator will step in to offer possible solutions to the couple’s issues if the parties can’t find the answers on their own. Some divorce mediators, especially those with legal backgrounds, or attorney mediators, will lend insight about how it may go in divorce court, but the couple is generally free reject the divorce mediator’s suggestion. One exception is when the solution the couple chooses, in the opinion of the divorce mediator, is so far from normal legal divorce statues that the divorce mediator believes a judge will not accept the proposed agreement. It would then be a disservice to the clients on the divorce mediators part to allow them to go to court with an agreement that they cannot adequately justify to a judge. This would be a waste of the divorce mediator’s client’s time, and money.
So, is divorce mediation right for you? If you can answer “yes” to questions like these, you are a very good candidate.
- Are you concerned about the long-term well being of your children, and do you desire to be equal participants in raising them?
- Do you believe your money is better spent on the family and the kids than teams of lawyers in a divorce court?
- Are you able to honestly consider the implications of your decisions where your spouse is concerned? Do you want it to end well with the possibility of peaceful post-divorce coexistence?
- Do you want to get through the divorce as painlessly as possible and move on with your life?
- Are you less concerned about “seeking revenge” against your spouse than trying to prepare for a life as a divorced person?
Going through a divorce is a contentious process. Spouses are in disagreement about what life after the divorce will look like for themselves, their children, and their family around them. The classic “Divorce Court” TV show style is to hire a couple of free-swinging lawyers, loose them in the court of battle, and let them duke it out for each side. This can accomplish the ending of a marriage, but can leave many points of disagreement, especially over custody of the children. How wealth and property is divided is a big one, too. Constant post-divorce struggles over the kids and where they’ll live and how often an ex-spouse gets to see them makes the exes combatants, when they should be concentrating on being parents.
What if there was a way to work things out in a calm and civil way before heading to divorce court, to settle points of contention beforehand, to make the divorce more amicable?
The answer could be in divorce mediation.
Divorce mediation is a way of finding solutions to issues like these that arise in a divorce proceeding. During mediation, both spouses, along with their attorneys, meet with a court-appointed third party – the mediator. This mediator assists the parties in negotiating a resolution to their divorce. The divorcing spouses have the opportunity to discuss the issues, clear up any disagreements and come to an agreement that they both agree to.
It’s important to note the divorce mediator is an objective and detached third party. They are not there to resolve problems for the couple or force them to come to any agreement. The divorce mediator assists the spouses by helping them come to an agreement by acting as an intermediary. The divorce mediator is there for guidance. They may offer opinions or suggestions, but is not there to take a side.
What are some advantages of divorce mediation?
- Divorce mediation can save time and money. If successful, divorce mediation means sidestepping the formal process of the divorce court. This shortens the divorce process for the spouses, reigns in attorney’s fees and helps ease up the caseload of the Family Court System.
- Divorce mediation is fair. The divorce mediator is an impartial third party that has no interest in the outcome. The divorce mediator is not on one side or the other. Also, the divorce mediator is an observer, not a participant in the divorce, so they have an objective view of the issues. The divorce mediator can suggest solutions that are not based on emotion.
- Divorce mediation is confidential and private. It happens outside the courtroom, without a court reporter furiously typing every word spoken for the record. There is no record. The divorce mediator takes notes to better understand the issues, but after the mediation the notes are destroyed. Divorce mediation happens in a private setting, often in a conference room or office, and out of public view.