Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?

Whether you are the one who initiated the divorce or the one who is faced with a divorce you don’t want, divorce can be emotionally and financially stressful on both parties. The good news is that there are many available paths through a divorce that don’t break the bank, and serve to minimize the emotional impact on your family. Your case does not have to involve two aggressive attorneys who take every issue you have to the judge, charging you and your spouse a fortune to do so. While some cases do call for skilled litigating attorneys, others simply do not require that level of representation. Whether or not you or your spouse have officially filed for divorce, consider mediation first.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where the parties select a neutral mediator to help them reach an agreement on all issues. The mediator does not give legal advice to either party but can provide the necessary information and guidance to the parties to help them make an informed decision. Although not required, parties are strongly encouraged to get some personal legal advice during the mediation process even if they believe they have a very simple case.

It is important to carefully research the background of a mediator to be sure you are working with someone who is skilled, has a good reputation in the community, and offers a fair and appropriate fee arrangement. For example, some mediators on Cape Cod will offer a pay-as-you-go fee arrangement and others will require the payment of a retainer. Be aware of mediators who charge a “flat fee” package because you may be overpaying in the end.

In simpler cases where there are relatively few issues to resolve, it is possible that a skilled mediator can help the parties reach a full agreement in one or two sessions and then move right to drafting an agreement. In cases that involve more complex issues, such as a disputed custody situation, marital home buyout, retirement plan transfers, family business or trust asset division, the parties will likely need several sessions with the mediator and may need to hire outside experts (appraisers, tax professionals, etc.) to assist them. Most mediations on Cape Cod range in cost from approximately $1,500 for very simple cases to $5,000 for more complex cases that involve multiple sessions.

There are many divorce mediators to choose from with different levels of experience and approaches to the mediation process. This is why you should interview at least two mediators before selecting the one who is the best fit for your situation. Many will offer free initial consultations, so you and your spouse can meet the mediator to see if you like his or her demeanor and style. Do your research online by visiting the websites of local mediators and check out any customer review sites to see if the mediator has any positive or negative feedback from their clients.

Word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to find a mediator. Talk to people you know, contact professional organizations, or speak to local court staff to see if they can provide some good local referrals for you. Your divorce agreement is one of the most important documents you will ever sign, so do your research and find the best mediator to fit your situation.

For more information on mediation and other divorce options, please visit Cape Cod Divorce & Mediation.

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About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.
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