For a couple not on sufficiently good terms to agree to an uncontested divorce in California, yet who also wish to avoid the expense and unpleasantry of a long, drawn out, publicly litigated divorce proceeding, a mediated divorce is a viable option. Where an uncontested divorce is quick and painless, requiring simply a lawyer to draw up the paperwork establishing the terms agreed upon by both parties, a litigated divorce can be extremely expensive, involving volatile arguments, stressful situations and public airing of dirty laundry. Mediation provides a middle ground between the two choices.
Benefits of Mediation
A mediated divorce provides many benefits over litigation, while still allowing the spouses to fight for their rights in the divorce, including:
- Confidentiality. A litigated divorce becomes part of public record, while a mediated divorce is kept confidential.
- Lower legal fees. Rather than footing the bill for exorbitant legal fees, court costs, et cetera, a divorcing couple can save a bundle by simply paying the mediator’s fees and their own lawyer’s costs, if they choose to be represented during the mediation.
- Reduced stress. A professional mediator is trained to defuse potentially volatile situations and help couples come to a reasonable and fair resolution, thus avoiding a potentially heated and very public battle.
Mediation is a good option for couples who really want to avoid going to court but just cannot come to an agreement on the division of property. Mediation can cover issues like spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, division of debt and more.
In a litigated divorce, the court makes the ultimate determination of how everything will be settled, and this is often not amenable to either party. A divorce mediation is a much less formal situation, allowing for more give and take and ultimately more agreement between the parties, so that the final solution is less of a court decree and more of a negotiated settlement.
While mediation is equally binding, this more relaxed, informal environment is more conducive to reaching a mutually agreeable division of property, and particularly where children are concerned, brings the stress level way down.
Although it will definitely increase the cost of a mediated divorce, there are indeed situations where having legal representation during mediation may be desirable. While a professional mediator will always try to look out for the best interests of both parties, a divorce attorney will have only his or her client’s interests in mind and may be able to provide situation-specific advice and guidance.
Although having an attorney assist with mediation will raise the cost of the process somewhat, it will still be substantially lower than it would be for a litigated divorce. Mediation is a much simpler, less drawn out process, requiring much less time and effort on the part of everyone involved.
For anyone considering divorce in Orange County, an uncontested divorce is the simplest, least expensive way to handle it. For those who cannot agree on the terms, however, before hiring expensive lawyers and getting a court date, consider the much less painful, less public and infinitely less expensive venue of mediation.