In recent years, more and more people have turned to divorce mediation as a way to resolve settlement negotiations in a cost-effective and efficient manner. There are few happy customers in the divorce market, but many people have come to realize that they are usually better off working things out directly with their spouses than taking their chances in court.
In cases where the family fortune is not a fortune, it is hard to see how it is worth it spending more than you have on litigation only to end up with a judgment that you are not happy with. If you have to sell off your house to pay legal fees and court costs, you’re probably doing something very wrong. Mediation doesn’t come cheap, since you will potentially still need to involve lawyers and judges at critical stages of the process, but if the process is run in a competent and efficient manner by way of a licensed divorce attorney or a retired family court judge, your case will be resolved privately, with all the necessary legal formalities observed, and for less time and money than you would need to pay if you had a full-scale litigated matter culminating in a trial with motions filed back and forth, witness depositions, and financial audits.
Until recently, mediation was regarded as the best way to go only when neither party is a “monied” spouse, and when both parties retained a modicum of mutual respect and ability to communicate effectively with each other in a businesslike manner. As mediation techniques become more refined with each success, this procedure can now safely be extended to questions that previously would have been considered not amenable to this style of treatment. A skillful and experienced divorce attorney or retired judge, working with the supporting attorneys of the parties, can usually manage to help craft a mutually-agreeable settlement even in an atmosphere free of sniping and contempt between the parties. The mediator takes each party aside to ask for a bottom-line view of each contentious point, and assists in facilitation of proposals based on this feedback, proposals that both parties know better than to dismiss out of hand, given they had a chance to express themselves fully on these matters.
A family court judge, once he/she has made an adverse ruling, cannot generally be cajoled into revisiting that matter, and unless there is appealable error in the judgment both parties are stuck with the decision. A mediation is fluid until every element of a settlement has been ratified by both sides. When you appear before a judge, you may find yourself losing your bargaining chips faster than you can find new ones. In a mediation, everyone’s cards are on the table.
Deciding whether to mediate or litigate is a delicate decision that involves a wide variety of factors. If you choose a lawyer to mediate your divorce, that attorney cannot represent you or your spouse as an advocate, but will be scrupulously fair to both parties. To ensure that your legal rights are protected, you may need an attorney to advise you during negotiations and to review any settlement proposal.
If you live in New Haven or Fairfield County (Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport, Milford, Waterbury, Westport), and you are considering divorce, we welcome you to visit the Shelton offices of Hirsch Legal LLC, where our principal attorney, Carmina Hirsch, can help you decide whether you should choose mediation, the litigated family court route, or another option, and then help you all the way through whichever process you ultimately choose.