Why Choose a Divorce Mediation Versus Divorce Lawyer?
In 2018, 7.2 per 1,000 married couples experienced a divorce. The divorce process differs for each couple as they face more challenges than ever, and one of those challenges is deciding whether they should litigate or mediate their divorce.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you’ll likely find that divorce mediation is the better option. Here’s why choosing Ohio divorce mediation is preferable to hiring a divorce lawyer.
Ohio Divorce Mediation vs Litigated Divorce: What’s the Difference?
If you’re considering divorce, you may wonder what the difference is between mediation and a litigated divorce. Both processes have pros and cons, but often couples prefer the ease of mediation.
What Is a Mediated Divorce?
Mediation is a divorce avenue that cuts out the court system. The primary role of mediation is to use a third party as a go-between to resolve issues surrounding the divorce. Some examples of issues that divorce mediators handle are:
- Division of marital assets
- Division of marital debt
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Alimony terms
- Terms of the prenuptial agreement (if applicable)
Ohio divorce mediation allows you to stay in control of the proceedings and take an active role in decision-making. It’s a great way to lessen the stress of ending the marriage, and it also gives the spouses a chance to practice amicable interactions before the divorce finalizes.
What Is a Litigated Divorce?
Litigated divorces involve going to court, and each spouse has a divorce attorney who presents their case during designated court proceedings.
The goal of a litigated divorce is the same as a mediated divorce. Divide marital assets, arrange custody, and solve any other problems posed by the divorce. The differences between these types of divorce mostly come down to how the couple got there.
Litigated divorces are often the result of couples who cannot reconcile the terms of a divorce on their own. Their divorce petitions become “contested,” and the case goes to court.
At that time, their attorneys argue for what either spouse wants, and the judge decides one way or the other. At the end of the case, the judge issues a divorce decree. This legal document enforces the decisions made during the litigated divorce.
What About Court-Ordered Divorce Mediation?
Court-ordered remediation means a judge orders couples to try mediation before taking their divorce to court. Many states, including Ohio, have provisions for this process.
In Ohio, the court-ordered remediation rules apply to couples with minor children. If these couples cannot decide on custody, child support, and visitation schedules, a judge may order mediation on those topics. Once mediation fails, the case turns back to litigation.
Benefits of Mediation
Working with a divorce mediator rather than a lawyer offers many benefits. The most obvious of which is reducing stress levels.
The stress of divorce is crippling for some couples. Even in cases where each partner no longer loves the other and wants a clean start, leaving that person and being alone is frightening. Mediators help calm the storm and provide a peaceful space to take an objective look at your divorce logistics.
Allows Communication Opportunities
Moreover, mediators facilitate effective communication between couples. Not only does this factor into reducing stress, but it often leads to more amicable divorces.
Another great reason couples choose divorce mediation over hiring a divorce lawyer is cost. Divorce lawyers are great at what they do and are worth the money if you take that route.
But, the price tag is relatively high- average divorce lawyer fees cost around $11.5K. In comparison, Ohio divorce mediation fees sometimes don’t cost anything if you use state services, and private mediation costs between $100-$500 per hour.
Furthermore, couples prefer divorce mediation because it’s often quicker than litigation. Scheduling and attending court dates drag litigated divorces out for a long time. Couples tend to agree much sooner with mediation because they aren’t in an adversarial courtroom environment.
Your children will also appreciate you choosing the mediation route over litigation. Remember that they’re a part of this process, too; if you’re stressed, so are they.
Mediation encourages parents to maintain a healthy relationship with their kids and learn co-parenting techniques. Moreover, it keeps the kids from seeing how nasty litigated divorces can be.
Higher Satisfaction Rates
Finally, more couples walk away from divorce mediation satisfied than they do with litigation. Litigation isn’t about equity and compromises, and it puts the focus on wins and losses.
But mediation is a team effort as each party becomes an active participant in the divorce. So, it feels less like a divorce is happening to them and more like they’re making a divorce occur. The result is that 90% of divorce mediations are successful.
When Mediation Doesn’t Work
Though we recommend mediation if possible, not every divorce is a good candidate for mediation. Deciding whether mediation is suitable for you is sometimes more than a cost issue; it can be a safety issue.
For example, mediation may not be the best option if there is evidence of domestic abuse. In these cases, having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side is vital to protect your interests and safety. A mediator cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court.
Like domestic violence, a couple with a power imbalance is not a great candidate for mediation. Since the mediator is a neutral third party, they cannot fight or argue for the party with less power. Therefore, in these cases, mediation can result in an inequitable divorce.
Finally, mediation is complex if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce. By nature, this situation is a contested divorce and should go to litigation. However, mediation is a sound option if you have the time and patience to convince the spouse that divorce is suitable for both parties.
Divorce Mediation Process: What to Expect
Not all divorce mediations are the same. A good divorce mediator will offer a customized process that suits you and your ex. But, the general mediation process looks like this.
Step 1: Find the Right Ohio Divorce Mediation Expert
Finding the right mediation expert combines your needs and your budget. If you want the free or very low-cost mediation the courts offer, you won’t have much choice. You’ll get the mediator assigned to you by the state.
But, if you’re looking for private divorce mediation, you have plenty of options. Be sure to research your mediator before hiring them to know you’re getting a quality service.
Some mediators have a background in law. These are often more expensive options, but they offer more knowledge and insight into divorce.
Step 2: Build a Mediation Plan and Schedule
Before you can start the mediation process, your mediator will confer with both parties to determine the terms of your mediation. It would help if you prepared for mediation before this session. Remember to write down everything you need to discuss so your mediator can plan sessions accordingly.
During this step in the process, you’ll better understand how long the mediation should take. Often, mediation sessions last between one and three hours. Most couples can complete mediation within three to five sessions; however, you’re encouraged to go at a natural pace.
Step 3: Attend Mediation Sessions
This step is the hard part. You’re going to feel a range of difficult emotions as you separate your life as an individual from that of your spouse.
But that’s what the mediator is there for! As you attend your sessions, the mediator will create a calming environment for you to work through the logistics of your divorce.
Step 4: Reach a Mediation Settlement
The mediation sessions aim to reach an equitable settlement that benefits and satisfies both parties. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare a written settlement agreement for both spouses.
Reaching the agreement is not the same as getting a divorce. The settlement states that you’ve reached a mutual agreement regarding your marital assets and custody. But, only a court-issued divorce decree can finalize your divorce.
Step 5: Submit Mediation Settlement to Court
The next step is to submit the mediated agreement to the court. Once the court reviews and approves the deal, it will become a formal divorce decree. Depending on the court’s schedule, this process can take a few weeks or longer.
Ohio Divorce Mediation: Get Started Today
Mediation is an excellent option for couples who want a fair and equitable split at a lower cost and with as little stress as possible. If Ohio divorce mediation sounds right for you, it’s time to take the next step. Finding a divorce mediator in Ohio is as easy as contacting Jim Robenalt at Next Page Mediation.
I founded Next Page Mediation to help couples turn the page on their lives and start anew. If you’re ready for that new chapter in your life, contact me today for a free consultation.