You have now decided to broach the topic of divorce. You and your spouse are in the process of separating and you are trying to determine your next steps. Understandably, there are many questions that are running through your head at this point. Where will I live? How will this impact my retirement? When will this all be finalized? How will this all be determined? These are all issues that can be complicated further when either spouse in a divorce has significant assets. One solution to an amicable and efficient high asset divorce is mediation.
The Many Benefits of Mediation
There is a common misconception among divorcing parties that they should brace themselves for a long and drawn out divorce battle in court. This is more often than not untrue. Eighty to ninety percent of our cases at Clement Law Center are resolved by the entry of agreed orders prior to trial. More and more divorces utilize the Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") process of mediation to help resolve all of their divorce issues. From child support and child custody to property division and spousal support, these can all be handled smoothly with mediation.
What is mediation exactly? Mediation involves a third-party neutral (the "mediator") who facilitates negotiations between each party in a divorce. The mediator is chosen by agreement of the attorneys, and brings to the mediation session many years of experience as a family lawyer and sometimes is actually a retired Court Commissioner or Judge. The mediation itself normally is scheduled for a half or full day of negotiations in a professional office setting. The parties and their attorneys usually are given a private conference room, and the mediator works with the parties to try to reach an agreement on one or more of the issues.
The mediator has no judicial power, and cannot force either party to agree on any issue. However, as a "neutral", with lots of court experience and no "ax to grind", the mediator can often be very helpful in explaining what a court is likely to do if the case does go to trial. In this way, someone who is making unreasonable demands can often be led to take a more reasonable position.
Things which are said, and offers which are made, are strictly confidential, which is one of the many benefits of mediation. If an agreement is reached on one or more issues, the parties and their attorneys sign a CR2A Agreement, which can be filed in court. Detailed court orders are then drafted by the attorneys to present to the Judge for entry.
Other benefits of mediation, include:
- Less costly: In most divorce cases, mediation means fewer costs for both parties. Rather than go through lengthy months or even years of litigation, the parties can save money by obtaining an agreement through mediation.
- Time efficient: Similar to the idea of cost-saving, mediation often does not take as long as trial or divorce litigation.
- Amicable: One of the major themes of mediation is to create an amicable solution for divorcing parties. The goal is to agree on a divorce solution that works for both parties and is less contentious. This is also beneficial to any children that may be involved in the divorce.
- Customized: If divorce parties go to trial, the judge ultimately has the final say in all divorce issues. With mediation, parties get to decide themselves what they want their divorce agreement to be.
These are just some of the many benefits of mediation and especially for high asset divorce scenarios. If you believe your high asset divorce could benefit from mediation, reach out to a seasoned divorce attorney in Washington.