Common Myths about Divorce Mediation
When you're considering divorce, litigation might seem like the only path available to you. Fortunately, divorce mediation offers an alternative that benefits all parties involved. However, there are some misconceptions that might deter you in your decision to pursue mediation. In this blog post, let’s examine and dispel some of the most common divorce mediation myths.
Myth #1: Mediators Are Biased
It's a common misconception that mediators are biased; many people mistakenly assume a mediator will favor one party over another or will advocate for reconciliation. In fact, the opposite is true – it's the duty of a mediator to be a neutral third party who guides separating couples toward the most beneficial resolution in order to finalize their divorce. A divorce mediator will be the "voice of reason" for both parties during the entirety of the divorce process. Whether there are high tensions or disputes over assets, a mediator will help the parties find the most sensible solution. It's not the mediator’s job to decide who’s at fault or deserves the award of a specific asset. Instead, a divorce mediator is there to help guide the conversation and assist the parties with resolving the differences between them so they can reach resolution of the divorce action.
Myth #2: Mediators Control and Decide Outcomes
Unlike judges and arbitrators, a mediator is not hired to make legally binding decisions on behalf of the divorcing couple. In fact, mediators are not permitted to give legal advice so as to ensure that all decisions are made by the parties. Instead of a third party with limited knowledge of the facts and the parties involved making legally binding decisions and issuing orders with life-altering implications, the parties themselves retain control over the terms and conditions of their divorce settlement. Mediators are hired to serve as neutral third-parties who are professionally trained to guide the divorcing parties toward constructive communication and assist the parties with resolving any outstanding issues so their divorce can be finalized.
Myth #3: Mediation Always Results in an Even Split of Assets/Debts
While it may be a mediator's job to help both parties come to an agreement, that doesn't necessarily mean that all assets and debts will be distributed evenly. The goal of successful divorce mediation is for the spouses to reach a settlement that benefits both of them based on their own unique situation. In many cases, that doesn't mean a 50/50 split and parties participating in mediation can create their own definition of what is “fair” based on the circumstances. By participating in mediation, the individuals involved are in charge of deciding on the terms for asset division, support, custody and all other issues arising from their marriage and negotiating the best resolution for all involved.
Myth #4: Divorce Mediation Doesn't Require a Lawyer
While an attorney-mediator is legally trained and has training in divorce mediation, that doesn't change the fact that their role as a neutral mediator prohibits them from offering any legal advice or opinions. Mediators can provide legal information and assist in generating options, but legal advice requires the assistance of an attorney engaged by each party. A mediator's job is to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to be heard, to receive any information necessary for each party to make educated decisions, and to help the parties craft a solution that both feel comfortable with and which they feel is best for their family. It's the job of a family law/divorce attorney to offer legal counsel and advice on issues and ultimately, once a settlement is reached, to assist the parties with the divorce or entry of an appropriate court order reflecting the agreed-upon terms.
Divorce is already an incredibly emotionally taxing process, one that can become more complex, time-consuming and expensive by pursuing litigation in court. Opting for divorce mediation instead offers a more streamlined, cost-effective, civil and sensible solution. To learn about how our professional mediators can assist you with divorce mediation, contact our team at Hite Kaminsky Family Law today.