The three top reasons to consider divorce mediation over litigation, or even over collaborative family law processes, are what may be described as the “three C’s” — Confidentiality, Control, and Cost-Cutting, as follows:
Confidentiality and privacy: Your signed confidentiality agreement in mediation will allow you to keep all of your private information about your children, your personal issues, your property, and your finances out of the public court records. During litigation, and when engaging in collaborative law process, all of your private sensitive issues are revealed to people who you may not know. Most of what you consider private facts becomes part of the public record for complete strangers to view. Most importantly, in mediation, you don’t have to air your personal matters in a public court (with a court reporter taking notes) or in front of numerous people with whom you are not well acquainted and don’t trust. Your mediation will take place in a private room with a trusted mediator, who signs a commitment to guard all your confidences within the confines of the safe haven of your sessions.
Control: Do you really want to give the control over the decisions about your life and your children’s lives to a judge, an arbitrator, or others who don’t know you, your needs, or your desires? Delegating authority to a judge or another person to decide important issues about your property, your finances, and your children puts your future at great risk. During the mediation process, you have control over your destiny. You receive legal education and workable options to inform you as to the law, with regard to your own circumstances, so that you and your spouse come up with ways to agree to the best decisions which fit your mutual needs. Your mediator empowers you through facilitated negotiations to create your own solutions (that are not imposed upon you) that are paramount for you, your children, and your ex-spouse.
Cost-Cutting: Although your experienced attorney-mediator may charge an hourly rate that is comparable to what an individual divorce attorney would charge each of you, in mediation, you’re sharing (normally proportional to income) in the expenses. Additionally, since you are meeting together (rather than separately) and providing documents without subpoenas and extensive time-consuming discovery, you eliminate the huge expense of back-and-forth calls and correspondence between lawyers, brief-writing, and costly court hearings. And because you’re always meeting together with a transparent agenda, you’re saving in time off from work, eliminating negative energy, and avoiding the emotional distress of appearing before strangers who will make judgments about you. You will be required to provide the same critical documents that would be required in litigation, but you will exchange these sensitive documents in a very safe environment with a minimal cost of reproduction and disclosure only to those who need to know. In mediation, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money, and why shouldn’t you? You need to preserve your hard-earned funds for your life after divorce. The decision is yours. Do you want to expend your cash reserve in a contentious courtroom battle — or would you rather engage in a private, confidential problem-solving process in which you will use your funds constructively to create a mutually satisfying agreement for you and your spouse?
Mari Frank is a divorce attorney-mediator in Laguna Niguel, CA (Orange County). She has been featured on numerous national television shows including 48 Hours, Dateline, NBC Nightly News, and The O’Reilly Factor and in newspapers across the nation including the L.A. Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.