Divorce does not have to be a battle and there is so much more to the process than just hire attorneys and go to court.
Did you know that it IS possible to get a divorce without ever setting foot in a courtroom? Not only is it possible, the court would prefer that!
This post is part of a series about divorce myths. Here are four commonly held myths about divorce mediation, and the realities you should know.
Myth #1: I need the mediator on MY side!
Reality: The titles “Mediator” and “Arbitrator” are often confused. An arbitrator hears both sides of a case outside of a formal courtroom and makes binding decisions. Mediation is vastly different in that the process is essentially owned by the couple. A mediator has no power over the decisions reached. If either divorcing spouse is uncomfortable with an aspect of the agreements being developed, it is their right to disagree and keep searching for solutions. My personal mediation mantra: “What can you both comfortably live with so you can agree and continue to move forward?”
Myth #2: I “researched” the law, so I know what I should get.
Reality: Most people enter their divorce overwhelmed by confusion and fear. While asking Dr. Google can be an easy anxiety reducer, when it comes to family law, it can bring a false sense of security in relation to certain entitlements. Some may find one attorney’s legal opinion and mistakenly confuse it for their “rights.” One of the great beauties of U.S. law is that it remains open to interpretation and expansion based on new cases and changing opinions. There is simply no way to ever know what an outcome would be in court.
Myth #3: If my mediator is a man and I am a woman, he will naturally side with a man (and vice versa).
Reality: In any profession, if you are good at what you do, you are good at what you do. It is a mediator’s responsibility to remain neutral. At the end of the day, your mediator does not live in your shoes. For a mediated agreement to have sustainable outcomes, it must work for both individuals – not for the husband or the wife only, and certainly not for the mediator. The sex of the mediator is irrelevant. What is relevant, is the parties comfortability with the mediator they choose.
Myth #4: Couples with a high net worth should never mediate their divorce.
No matter the size of the bank account, communication and personality dynamics remain the critical issues in the development of mutually beneficial solutions. In fact the more money the parties have the more likely at least one – if not both – parties will lose (financially and otherwise) if they have the court decide.
The key is to find a mediator with training, integrity and experience, as well as the humility to bring in outside experts (i.e., parenting coordinators, attorneys specializing in relevant areas outside of family law, and wealth managers) when necessary, to address the complex issues that might otherwise fuel an expensive “Battle of the Experts” in court. No one has so much money that it should be wasted on increasing conflict. In the end, the only true people who win in court are attorneys.