I have seen a recent rise in the number of calls I receive by people interested in divorce mediation in San Diego. It seems that people have realized that divorces can be costly and emotionally-draining, and divorcing couples are beginning to recognize the benefits of divorce mediation.
What are the benefits of divorce mediation?
o First, divorce mediation tends to be a lower-cost option. Generally, each party is paying for their own attorney. That means that the family is paying the hourly rate for two attorneys to facilitate finalizing their case. With mediation, the parties are paying for only one mediator, so theoretically, it is half the cost.
o Next, divorce mediation allows the parties to work as a team to accomplish their divorce. The non-litigious atmosphere usually leads to a more amicable end to the relationship. The parties can approach their divorce as a mutual, healthy business decision instead of a war.
o Divorce mediation provides flexibility for the parties. There are many things that a judge would not have the legal authority to order. For example, a judge cannot order a spousal support buy-out—there is no statutory authority to allow him or her to do so. However, sometimes that makes the most sense in a case. Perhaps one of the parties needs this money upfront to purchase a new home following the divorce. The parties can both agree in mediation to work toward this goal, and can stipulate to a spousal support buy-out.
o In many cases, mediation will accomplish finalization of a case much more quickly than handling the case in family court. In San Diego, the courts are dealing with budget cuts, so hearings are often set months in the future. If a case proceeds to trial, it is not uncommon for this to occur one to two years after the divorce was initially filed. With mediation, sometimes within a matter of weeks the parties can file for divorce, fulfill all the legal requirements, negotiate the dissolution terms and submit a final judgment. The parties will then just have to allow the six-month waiting period to run.
Mediation certainly is not right for everyone. It generally won’t work for people that are not open to compromise. It is difficult in cases involving domestic violence. It can increase the overall costs and timeline if mediation ultimately does not work. But for those that are interested in working together through the dissolution process, it is often a smart option.
-Tess Reutzel, Esq.
The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.