Divorce litigation can be an incredibly expensive, stressful, and time-consuming process. Depending on the complexity of the divorce, property division questions, and child custody issues, some divorces can take years to finalize. When a couple decides to litigate their divorce, the process can take much longer than they initially expect and lead to much worse outcomes for both than anticipated. However, if they are willing to compromise on the terms of their divorce, it’s possible to avoid most, if not all, the litigation process.
Collaborative divorce, or divorce mediation, is an alternate dispute resolution method for divorce cases that allows a divorcing couple to settle the terms of their divorce privately. During mediation, a neutral third-party oversees the negotiation, and the spouses may wish to have their respective legal representatives accompany them. The mediator’s job is to keep the conversation focused, to clarify any legal questions about the divorce, and to help the couple develop a comprehensive divorce agreement.
If you plan to end your marriage in St. Charles, MO in the near future, it’s essential to understand the advantages of seeking divorce mediation instead of litigation. Even if you and your spouse have deep personal issues, approaching the situation as objectively as possible and focusing on a mutually agreeable divorce can ultimately offer several substantial benefits.
One: Divorce Mediation Saves You Money
When you litigate your St. Charles, MO divorce, you are paying legal fees for every court appearance and every hour of time your attorney spends working on your case. Depending on how complex your marriage is, you may need to coordinate with other professionals until you can approach divorce proceedings. The legal fees of divorce litigation add up very rapidly.
Divorce mediation, on the other hand, only costs you money per session, and you can take as many sessions as you need to reach a divorce agreement. Depending on how cooperative you and your spouse are willing to be with one another, divorce mediation can cost a fraction of what you would spend in legal fees.
Two: Divorce Mediation Is Faster
A drawn-out litigation process can take several months or even years to conclude. If you and your spouse are willing to take advantage of mediation and work efficiently, you could finalize your divorce in a fraction of the time required for litigation. Even if you have a complex marriage and difficult financial questions to answer, multiple mediation sessions are much more expedient than scattered court dates, sometimes with weeks of minimal progress between proceedings. Mediation can make your divorce process feel much faster, and you’ll likely reach a divorce agreement sooner.
Three: Keep Your Divorce Private
Every civil law matter that reaches the courtroom becomes a matter of public record, including litigated divorce cases. When you opt for mediation, you are investing in the opportunity to keep your divorce out of the public. This is particularly advantageous for married couples who own significant wealth or those with public notoriety. When you submit your divorce agreement for court approval, the ending of your marital contract becomes public record. However, there won’t be the detailed records of proceedings that the litigation process requires.
Four: You Make the Final Call
If you and your spouse decide to avoid the hassles of litigation and pursue mediation instead, you are essentially keeping control of your divorce. In the litigation process, a judge ultimately decides matters of child custody, support, and property division. In contrast, mediation allows you and your spouse to negotiate terms for these things privately.
Once you reach agreeable terms through collaborative mediation, you can submit the proposed agreement to a judge for final review and approval. This means you and your spouse get to make a decision that is fair and reasonable instead of having a decision imposed based on strict legal principles.
Five: Higher Chance of Better Future Interactions
Litigation is an incredibly taxing process, and divorce cases tend to have significant emotional angles as well. Even spouses who are on somewhat civil terms may see their relationship devolve bitterly during divorce proceedings because of the stress of litigation. Ending a divorce with a court battle can strain the relationship between the divorcing spouses even further.
Divorce mediation increases the chances of having more civil future conversations with an ex. This is especially important for parents. Divorcing parents must accept the fact that they will be parts of each other’s lives until their children are legally adults, and bitter litigation can make their future interactions more stressful and destructive than they should be. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, allows the divorcing spouses to grow accustomed to negotiating their differences in a civil, calculated manner. Establishing this level of communication early in divorce is valuable, especially for parents.
Six: Mediation Is More Efficient
Protracted court battles can be tedious, stressful, and expensive. Over time, the proceedings may become so focused on certain topics that others are not fully explored. This will lead to divorcing couples needing to return to court later to adjust their divorce decrees and submit motions for necessary changes to their divorce agreement. Over time, these stressful experiences become even more taxing on the couple as they seem to be constantly renegotiating their divorce.
Divorce mediation, by comparison, allows the divorcing couple to fully explore all the elements of their divorce on their own terms, and on their own time. Instead of going through the litigation motions, mediation allows a divorcing couple to devote their attention to the issues that are most important to them.
Never make the mistake of taking the hard route through divorce just to spite your ex. While you may end up costing them more in legal fees, you will ultimately pay more as well. Litigation is not cheap, nor does it unfold swiftly. If you are preparing for a St. Charles, MO divorce, it’s a good idea to meet with a St. Charles, MO divorce attorney and ask them what they think of mediation instead of litigation.