Couples divorce for many reasons, meaning that every couple who undergoes the divorce process will have a completely unique experience. While it is impossible to predict how a divorce case will play out, couples across the country are exploring alternative dispute resolution to avoid the typical stress and expense of the conventional dissolution process. Divorce mediation offers several tangible benefits to both spouses. It is essential to consider these benefits if you believe you are ready to file for divorce in Columbia, MO.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine the advantages and drawbacks of pursuing divorce mediation based on the unique nature of your case. Divorce mediation could provide you the opportunity to settle all aspects of your divorce privately swiftly and efficiently or allow you and your spouse to negotiate some divorce terms before proceeding to litigate the rest. Ultimately, it is worthwhile for any divorcing couple to explore the potential benefits of the mediation process.
Divorce Mediation Is Affordable and Efficient
One of the most challenging aspects of the modern divorce process is the time and expense required to secure a divorce agreement. Standard litigation for dissolution of marriage can take months or even years, during which both spouses must continue to pay for their legal representation. By contrast, divorce mediation typically incurs a small fraction of the time and cost required to litigate the same divorce case. Many times, it is possible for a couple to mediate their divorce within a few weeks or months instead of several months or years.
If you have concerns about your future financial state following your divorce, this alone is certainly reason enough to explore the potential divorce mediation could hold. To do so, contact a professional divorce attorney. An experienced Columbia, MO divorce attorney should be able to provide you with reasonable estimates of what you could expect to spend in divorce mediation compared to divorce litigation in Missouri.
Mediation Keeps Your Divorce Private
Some divorcing couples are unwilling to explore alternative dispute resolution out of spite and highly charged emotions. However, keep in mind that your desire to force your soon-to-be ex-spouse to spend as much as possible on litigation costs will wind up costing you the same amount. Worse, all aspects of your divorce will remain public simply because you were unwilling to attempt civil settlement negotiations. In most cases, mediation will prove to be the less contentious, most streamlined way to navigate your divorce.
When you litigate your divorce, everything said in court becomes public record, accessible to anyone. If you would prefer these proceedings remain private, mediation is your best available option. Mediation sessions will take place in a neutral atmosphere like a mediator’s office, providing a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere to facilitate your negotiations. Once your mediator helps you draft your divorce order, it will be submitted to the court for final approval. The record of the divorce will become public, but all the negotiations held in mediation sessions remain confidential.
Mediation Allows You to Maintain Control Over Your Divorce
One of the most challenging facets of litigating a divorce is the fact that no matter how strong your case, the outcome rests entirely in the hands of a judge and impartial legal statutes. This is significant, as your expectations for the outcome of your divorce may not come to pass with the judge’s final decision. Missouri is an equitable distribution state, and your interpretation of “equitable” division of property and assets may or may not align with the judges.
Mediation allows you and your spouse to negotiate on a more personalized level and pursue the issues most critical to your interests. If the property division agreement you reach in mediation remains relatively equitable, it is likely that a judge will approve it with few to no alterations. Therefore, mediation is the best option if you want to maintain as much control as possible over the outcome of your divorce case.
Potential Challenges in Divorce Mediation
While the benefits of divorce mediation are numerous and clear, there are some potential downsides to this method of alternative dispute resolution for some couples. First, it is not possible to mediate every aspect of a divorce, especially when it comes to divorcing parents. The Missouri state family court has a legal duty to ensure that any child custody agreement suits the best interests of the children it will affect. You and your spouse can negotiate a proposal for a custody agreement, but you cannot reach a final decision privately. The court must review and approve the custody and support agreement proposal you and your coparent develop in mediation.
Mediation may also be unsuitable for other divorce cases, namely those involving domestic violence, criminal activity, or significantly high-net-worth individuals. These issues may require an extensive review and litigation process simply due to the volume and significance of the evidence. Finally, mediation is only an option if both spouses are willing to negotiate. If one of the spouses is unwilling to explore alternative dispute resolution and demands a trial, this can effectively nullify the other spouse’s desire to pursue mediation.
Find Reliable Legal Counsel
It is a common misconception that you can avoid legal fees by settling your divorce privately. Still, it is important to remember that a mediator cannot offer you or your spouse any legal advice. The mediator’s job is to keep the negotiation flowing and assist the divorcing couple in drafting their divorce agreement. They are legally prohibited from providing any legal advice to either party. If you and your spouse are willing to explore mediation to settle your divorce privately, you will both require legal representation.
If you want to ensure you have a legal advocate in your corner as you prepare for your divorce, find an experienced Columbia, MO divorce attorney. Your attorney can assist with evidence gathering and help you craft a solid negotiation position as you prepare for mediation. During each session, you will be able to rely on your attorney for legal advice and to clarify any state laws or other legal statutes that come into play.