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10 Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation

Mediation is the sensible alternative to litigation particularly when people are divorcing. When you think about divorce, you immediately think of lawyers, courts, judges, and litigation, not to mention expense and aggravation. People are not as familiar with mediation and often have erroneous notions about what the process of divorce mediation is all about.

The following are some of the common misconceptions about divorce mediation:

My spouse and I cannot be civil to one another; we argue all of the time. I thought that for mediation to work the couple must be on amicable terms.

This is not true. Mediators are trained to deal with volatile situations. Take a look at labor negotiations or negotiations in the middle east. Alternative: Divorce Mediation uses a clinical psychologist and family law attorney team when mediating a divorce. Their combined skills in dealing with difficult situations can reduce the acrimony and even help couples to learn the skills necessary for successful negotiations.

I won't need an attorney if I decide to mediate.

This is false. In fact, we urge couples seeking a divorce to have an attorney as a consultant to give legal advice and to go over documents prepared by the mediators. While the Deborah Vaupen of Alternatives is an attorney, she will assure each party that their best interests are being safeguarded.

I heard that in mediation I would have to pay a large sum of money up front just to get started.

Alternatives: Divorce Mediation does not require any up front fees or retainers to begin a mediation. fees are paid by the hour at the end of each mediation session. In this way, you know exactly how much time is being spent and for what you are being charged. You can choose to increase or decrease the time spent depending on your goals and budget.

I am afraid that I will have to compromise too much and will not get everything I want.

The mediators are trained to focus on the same issues that would be examined by the court: spousal support, asset distribution, child custody, property settlement, and parenting plans. With the help of the mediators, the couple decides on what is fair; the mediators serve to assure that there will be an equitable balance in all agreements.

Since children get hurt by my divorce no matter what, it won't matter whether I decide to mediate or litigate my divorce.

This is incorrect. By its very nature, litigation is an adversary process. Thus it promotes a climate of tension and acrimony. Mediation, on the other hand, promotes a climate of cooperation. The mediators are continuously keeping in mind the emotional, psychological, and financial interests of the children. Since parents will remain parents after a divorce, it is in the best interest of the children for them to learn how to negotiate for the future.

It would take just as long to get divorced using mediators as it would if I hired an attorney.

On the contrary, by using a mediator to handle your divorce you save time. Since all the negotiations are spent with the couple being present, and conversations between spouses occur directly with one another, a considerable amount of time is saved. In a litigated divorce one party talks to his/her attorney who in turn talks to the other attorney, who then talks to his/her client, only to begin the cycle again. By having the parties talk directly to each other with mediators saves a great deal of time.

I will suffer no matter what I do , so mediation cannot help.

Pain is a natural part of dissolution. However, the mediation process mitigates the pain by empowering parties to focus on the issues that need to be resolved. The process allows for each party to express his or her feelings while focusing on the decisions that need to be made. With the help of a psychologist-attorney team, both the emotional and psychological issues as well as the legal issues will be attended to. This process helps to reduce or eliminate the additional pain that is a part of an acrimonious litigated divorce.

I understood that I would have to give up my right to go to court if I choose to mediate.

This is not true. You give up none of your rights when you decide to mediate. Should the mediation break down, you are always free to exercise your right to court.

My spouse is an emotional bully. I will not be protected unless I have a lawyer to defend me. mediators are not trained to do that.

By using a psychologist-lawyer team, Alternatives is able to diffuse most emotionally charged situations. The mediators focus on empowering the weaker party so that equitable decisions can be made. I addition, the mediators often recommend the couples seek outside consultants (e.g., accountants, attorneys, appraisers, etc. ) to become more informed. By the time the mediation is concluded a balance of power is usually achieved with both the rights of both parties being addressed.

I am sure I want to get a divorce. I thought you only go to a mediator if you want to reconcile your marriage.

Mediation is not marriage counseling. People come to mediators for the purpose of obtaining a divorce with less pain than occurs in litigation. Divorce mediation hopes to effect a balanced settlement of the issues facing couples where both parties can participate in deciding their own future. In a litigated divorce the judge decides what is fair; in a mediated divorce the couple decides.

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