5 Reasons to Mediate Your Divorce

South Carolina Family Courts will all soon require you to mediate your divorce case before you can have a final hearing.  Many clients look at this as just another way to feed the system, just one more thing to do before we can resolve the case, and just one more waste of time.  If this is your attitude, let me encourage you to look on the bright side of mediation.

1.  Proximity

Mediation gets all of the decision-makers together under one roof.  Depending on your mediator, you likely won’t share a conference room, but you will be just down the hall from one another and having everyone in the same place at the same time cuts down many barriers that people like to hide behind.

2.  Control

This will be one of, if not the, final times you have any control over the outcome of your case.  A mediator is not a judge.  He will not sit in with you and your spouse, listen to both sides, and render a verdict.  In fact, that is what you are trying to avoid.  You and your spouse are the only ones who truly know all of the facts and circumstances of your marriage and divorce.  Who better to decide the outcome, right?  The other option is for you to spend a day or more in trial, presenting your facts to a judge who knows nothing about you and your spouse (really, he knows what he hears during the case and he may have a totally different impression of the facts than you do) and hoping the judge rules in a favorable way to you.

One thing I like to tell parties as they enter a mediation is that since they are in control of crafting the outcome, they can be creative in how things are resolved and can specifically tailor the result to their lives.  If they leave it up to a judge, the judge will be pigeonholed by state law and public policy and will be less creative with his ruling.

3.  (More) Affordable

I know you probably look at mediation as another person with their hand out.  This is another lawyer who gets to charge you $200 per hour and has no interest in the outcome of the case.  I want to encourage you that this is a great opportunity to save a lot of money.  While your mediator may charge $200 per hour (with each party responsible for half) and you are paying your lawyers to be there, the alternative if to schedule a trial with the court that could last a day or longer and pay your lawyer to prepare and represent you in trial,  and to pay your expert witnesses and other subpoena fees.

Let’s do some quick math.  For this example let’s assume your lawyer’s hourly rate is $200 per hour.

A one day trial will cost you:

6 hours of court x your lawyer’s hourly rate of $200 = $1,200 for court.

Your lawyer probably spent 3 hours preparing for every hour of court time so that’s 18 hours x $200 per hour = $3,600.00

That’s nearly $5,000 for the privilege of having your case decided by a judge.

That compared with the $400 or so you could have spent on a mediator.

4.  Time

If you successfully mediate your divorce, you will only need a short hearing (15 minutes or so) to finalize the divorce and seek approval of the mediated agreement.  This can typically be heard by the court within 4-6 weeks.  If, you don’t reach an agreement and an extended trial is necessary it can take months or years for your case to be heard.

5.  The Process is Less Adversarial

The divorce process is typically pretty hostile and not a lot of fun.  If you think getting served and reading your spouse’s pleadings or affidavits was a drag, wait until you get cross-examined by his lawyer during the trial.  It’s really no fun.  The process is grueling, demanding, and can lead to spouses disliking one another even more.  When there are children involved it is important to retain some ability to communicate and work together.  By working together to resolve the divorce through mediation you cut out additional opportunities for each spouse to throw mud and fire at the other and to damage the future relationship and ability to co-parent the children.  Mediation opens the lines of communication up between the parties so the conversation is less posturing and more successful in making progress to end the litigation.

Comments

  1. Ted Schmitt says:

    The line which says “damage the future relationship” has me puzzled. Why would former spouses have a future relationship? My soon to be former spouse certainly cannot have a future relationship, well, only as total adversaries.

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