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Divorce Mediation - The Sensible Way to Say Goodbye
It's no surprise that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. More surprising is the cost of these divorces - with legal fees averaging $22,000 to $48,000 per couple. Add in the anger, hatred, and bitterness, and the stage is set for long-term financial and emotional recovery. Fortunately, marriages can be dissolved in a respectful and dignified manner through mediation. Typical average cost: $2,000 to $4,000. This enormous saving frees up funds that may be used for more productive purposes like home purchases and college educations.
Unlike the typical court litigated divorce, mediation is non-adversarial, enabling couples to forge future relationships that offer more courtesy and respect. This is very important if the divorcing couple will be raising children in separate homes. Additionally, mediated agreements tend to last longer than court awards as it is the couple who decides what they want and not a judge.
A divorce mediator will effectively facilitate you and your spouse's discussion in the division of your marital assets and the authoring of a comprehensive parenting agreement (if you have children). Highly trained in conflict resolution, he will help you sift through the emotions that might prevent agreement and help you focus on your interests so you may achieve your goals. Mediators will not make decisions or make rulings, but act as neutrals to help you move forward to "where we are" and away from "where we've been."
Part of the process is the agreement to disclose all assets, income, and liabilities, and bargain in good faith with the intent to settle. Although mediation is voluntary, you never give up the right to go to court. You might be surprised to know that the national average for successful mediated settlements hovers around 90%. That's a very impressive number when you consider the fact that you are always in control of your settlement.
Many people believe that there is no possible way they would be able to reach a settlement as the level of conflict at home is too high with every discussion leading to a heated argument. A trained mediator will help you express your interests, positions, and thoughts in the pursuit of productive dialogue. It doesn't mean that an emotion or two won't flare up, but he will help the both of you meet your needs while keeping conflict to a minimum. If there are children of the marriage, most parents step up to the plate and make cooperative parenting decisions, thus setting the stage for an easier discussion of assets and liabilities.
Any good mediator will recommend that you and your spouse get independent advice to review the legal implications of any potential decisions. It is also permissible to have an attorney present during the mediation sessions. Additionally, you may find it beneficial to seek the advice of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to help you understand the consequences of your financial decisions. At first, you may think that a few hours of professional time might not be worth it, but it is not at all uncommon for a couple to save the fees many times over by following the advice of an attorney or CDFA.
Fees charged by mediators typically range from $125.00 to $250.00 per hour. Although they can be comparable to the hourly fees charged by attorneys, the time necessary to resolve and complete your agreement is far less when mediation is used. And most of all, YOU stay in control.
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The court considers joint custody upon the request of either parent. If the court finds that domestic violence has occurred, the court shall enter such orders that best protect the children and party who were the victims of domestic violence. If a party is absent or relocates with or without the children because of an act of domestic violence, the absence or relocation does not weigh against the party in determining custody or visitation.
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