There are a number of out-of-court options available to clients who wish to resolve parenting, support and/or property issues with their former spouse without the financial and emotional cost of litigation. One of these options is mediation. A neutral mediator facilitates discussion between you and your ex, helping to identify the places where you agree and disagree and assisting in generating options for resolution. Mediation allows couples to resolve things creatively themselves, not putting your children and money in the hands of a stranger. It is cost-effective, particularly if you attend mediation without lawyers present since the two of you share the cost of the mediator and then only pay for lawyers’ time “on the side” to obtain independent legal advice.
Mediation without lawyers is a great option for you if you want to keep costs low, particularly if you retain a lawyer-mediator who can teach you about the legal framework of each issue (without providing specific legal advice), help you reach agreements and draft a separation agreement. If you and your spouse have already reached agreement on most issues and just need someone to draft the written agreement – and assist with a few outstanding issues – this process can also provide what you need. However, attending mediation without lawyers does require you to advocate for yourself and feel confident and safe to have discussions face-to-face (or on Zoom) with your ex.
If you don’t want to go it alone, attending mediation with lawyers is a great alternative. Your lawyers should assist with exchange of documents and information ahead of time and then you and your spouse and your lawyers attend mediation, working through the issues that need resolution. A mediator can break through impasse, provide a neutral perspective or help you discover insights or generate options that lead to a way forward. If there are safety concerns, shuttle mediation allows the mediator to “shuttle” between clients without face-to-face discussions between them.
Mediation is a good option for most families, so long as both spouses are willing to compromise and reach reasonable agreements. And, if you have children, they benefit most, as mediated agreements tend to be more durable, practical and catered to the unique needs of your family.
At Connect, we offer mediation services (with two certified family mediators), attend mediation with our clients or assist clients as they attend on their own. Please reach out anytime.