Once the decision has been made to dissolve a marriage and become divorced, the next step is to determine how that process takes place. You can “lawyer up” and begin the litigation process, which can be lengthy and costly, but can result in a resolution if/once both spouses come to an agreement. You and your spouse can begin a collaborative divorce, where each spouse hires his and her own attorney to work collaboratively with the other side towards the goal of reaching a resolution. Or, you and your spouse can choose to mediate your divorce.
Many individuals contact our office asking, “Is mediation right for my divorce?” Here is our informal, step-by-step analysis for deciding whether mediation might be the avenue that you and your spouse might want to go down as you prepare to part ways:
- Can we communicate with each other? The quality of communication does not need to be perfect. It can even devolve into arguments and shouting. However, if you and your spouse have the desire and ability to listen to each other enough to meaningfully discuss the substance of how to disentangle your lives, mediation is an option worth exploring.
- Are we concerned about the cost? While there are exceptions, typically mediated divorces cost just a fraction of what litigated divorces cost.
- Are we concerned about maintaining some level of civility after the process is over? Litigation is an adversarial process, meaning that if your case proceeds to a trial, a judge will ultimately decide what your post-divorce life will look like, including how often you see your children, how much support is paid, and the “who gets what” of all of your and your spouse’s assets. With mediation, you and your spouse control all of that, and that can be very helpful when you inevitably run into each other down the road.
- Would we like the process to go at a speed that we are comfortable with? If left to a court, scheduling court dates often mean waiting months to get input from a judge, and sometimes the judge’s input does not result in a final determination. All too often, when we represent individuals in litigated divorces, we have to answer questions about why the Pre-Trial Conference has to be scheduled many months out. With mediation, if there is an issue that needs to be discussed sooner than that, that issue can be discussed as soon as you can schedule a meeting with your mediator.
- How much do each of you value having control over the process? By control, we do not mean that one spouse controls the process over the other. Rather, how much value do you and your spouse place on the two of you controlling the parameters of the discussion, the pace of meetings, the substance of meetings, and the ability to creatively approach the various issues that each of you feel is important? A court hearing for a divorce does not always result in a definitive resolution of a disputed issue. With mediation, you and your spouse control the agenda, the frequency, and the results of meetings with a mediator.
If you have any questions about mediation in Massachusetts, contact Jonathan R. Eaton of Finn & Eaton, P.C. in Woburn and Saugus by calling 781 484-1066 or by sending an email to schedule a free initial consultation.