What does divorce mediation do? I want you to think about mediation as a tool as opposed to an alternative. Many think, “I could get divorced with a lawyer, or I can get divorced with mediation,” like that’s a second way to get divorced, But in fact, you still have to step through every single aspect of the divorce process whether you use mediation or not.
Mediation is a great tool, and for a lot of people that are getting divorced in a non-contentious way or maybe they disagree on a few things but not everything, chances are that if you get a good mediator, you can move through the process and actually come to agreement and have a non-contested divorce.
What I want you to be aware of and be careful of is that you still need to do all the work necessary to get ready for that mediation, just like you were getting ready for a court proceeding.
In other words, and I’ll tell you about this because this is a problem that some people have that worries me, I get people calling my office, and they tell me about mediation. My response is usually, “No. Don’t go to mediation right now. You’re not ready.” Using our example of a woman who was a stay-home mom for a long period of time. She’s got a 15-year marriage, and her husband, who’s is a very savvy businessman, will say, “Hey, Honey. Let’s not be contested here. We’ll go to mediation. We’ll get this done quickly. Don’t worry. I’ll give you everything, half, not a problem.”
From the woman’s perspective, that sounds, “Okay. Good. I don’t want contention. I don’t want to be a problem in this divorce. I want to make sure that it’s fair, and everything’s going to be all right.”
This person usually starts telling me about the financial situation, and what I come to find out is they know nothing about the finances. Now this happens in a lot of marriages. One person handles the finances, and the other person really focuses on the children. That’s fine, except you don’t want to go to mediation without all the financial disclosure piece and assuring that you really do know what the finances are, and if you really know what the finances are, then you can go to mediation and make sure that you’re getting a fair settlement. Regardless of the situation, I would hate to see anyone go to mediation without that financial disclosure piece done.
Mediation is great tool under the right circumstances when financial disclosure has been done and you’re clear about what the issues are, and you go to mediation to just deal with the issues that you haven’t been able to come to an agreement on. Then it can work out beautifully.