For the party initiating a divorce, there are three main options:
- Forget the attorneys, I’ll just do it myself!
- Hire my own attorney.
- Both parties agree to hire a Mediator.
Mediation can be a fabulous alternative to doing your own divorce, depending on the circumstances. As discussed in a previous blog, mediation of child custody and visitation issues is often available at little or no cost through the courthouse, but for mediation of all other divorce issues, the parties will need to hire their own mediator. Having a mediator facilitate the divorce process can save time, anguish, and, in the long-run, money, in various ways.
What is a Mediator? A mediator is a neutral, objective-based professional, who facilitates the conversation between the parties. A mediator need not be a licensed attorney; however, it may be a mistake to hire a mediator who is not familiar enough with divorce procedures and issues to effectively guide the parties through the process.
It is a mistake to think that mediation is the answer to everything. The mediator cannot represent you in Court; the mediator is there only to facilitate settlement. This can avoid litigation and contention, if the mediator is able to resolve the issues between the parties. This can be a financial savings as well as reduce stress and hostility. However, sometimes mediation does not work. If the parties are not able to resolve all issues in mediation, they will end up in litigation anyway and will probably end up costing more. Now, instead of hiring one attorney (the mediator) or two attorneys (skip mediation and go straight to litigation), the parties have hired three attorneys (the mediator plus each parties’ attorney for litigation).
Also, it is a mistake to ignore mediation, as working with a good mediator can be superior to doing your divorce yourself in a number of ways:
1) Amicable—Diffuse potentially volatile conversations.
2) Systematic—Someone to guide you thru the process effectively, so that nothing gets omitted.
3) Flexible—Work with both parties to devise solutions that work best in their particular circumstances.
4) Competent—Get the paperwork completed, processed smoothly and done appropriately.
The Law Office of Andrew J. McCall represents Family Law litigants in Contra Costa & Solano Counties, so, if you know someone who has been trying to do his/her own divorce and is having problems, have him/her contact us to discuss representation or consultation or just help with forms.