If your marriage has irrevocably broken down, early on, you must decide whether you want to retain individual representation or you should pursue mediation, a process in which an attorney fairly and impartially evaluates your marriage as a whole and makes recommendations dictating the terms of your separation and/or divorce.
Mediators vs. Lawyers
Mediation is not for everyone. If a divorce is particularly contentious, the odds are, mediation is neither viable nor practical. A mediator cannot take sides, nor can they give either party the kind of personal legal advice that many people seek during a divorce. A mediator’s job is to determine and establish a final outcome that is fair to both parties, whereas an attorney individually representing you will fight to make sure that you, the client, are getting the best settlement possible.
Why choose Mediation?
So, why do so many couples choose to go through a mediator? Mediation can spare you time, money, and several stressful court appearances. It is no secret that divorce can get highly emotional, and with mediation, many of the typical headaches associated with divorce can be avoided. A good mediator is fair and impartial and will look at both sides of the marriage, conducting a careful evaluation of everything from the length of the marriage to each party’s earning capacity and the couple’s net assets; using this information, the mediator can determine the cleanest way to dissolve a marriage while addressing the needs of both parties. This can mean avoiding rehashing any painful, troubled times, assigning blame, and making hasty decisions during a sensitive time. Mediation can also be a good way to resolve child custody disputes without the need for an intense litigation; often traumatic for minor children.
Finding the Right Mediator
Of course, as with seeking the services of any professional, you and your spouse must find a mediator that you are both comfortable with. You have the right to sit down and meet a potential mediator before retaining his or her services to determine if it is a good match. There are also many resources available online, including peer reviewed databases, where you can view client testimonials who have worked with mediators in the past. Is he or she positively reviewed and highly recommended by clients and peers? How much experience does the mediator in question have? Are you comfortable with the mediator’s educational training and legal expertise? You can and should meet with multiple mediators before you determine which person you are most comfortable with hiring. After all, you are trusting this person with navigating the terms of your separation or divorce, a decision which will impact the rest of your life, financially and otherwise. After doing your research and meeting with a mediator, you may ultimately decide that mediation is not the best route for your unique situation. However, regardless of what decision you make in the end, mediation is an excellent option worth exploring, no matter what the circumstances.