One of the modern and growing trends in divorce negotiation is the use of mediation in place of traditional litigation. Some couples are opting to try mediation first before traditional court-ordered hearings, while in other situations, the court is ordering couples to try mediation before allowing court divorce hearings. If the court is ordering mediation, it is important to understand how the process works and what to expect in terms of time, money, and emotional expense. Divorce attorneys in your area will have experience managing mediation and will be able to provide you with additional information specific to your case.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution technique for couples going through divorce. The couple meets outside of the courtroom and each spouse brings his or her own attorney. The couple meets with a neutral third party, known as the mediator, who is usually a retired family law attorney or judge. The mediator meets with each spouse to determine the outstanding issues in the divorce and then begins the negotiation process with the couple. The mediator goes back and forth between the spouses to discuss terms and collaborate on issues such as property distribution, spousal support, child custody, visitation, child support, and other issues.
Unlike traditional divorce in court, where the judge makes arbitrary decisions about your case, mediation allows for collaborative and unique solutions that work specifically for your situation. If the mediation is successful, the mediator and the attorneys will draft a mediated divorce settlement. If the mediation falls apart, the process begins over in the family court. One of the benefits of mediation is that even if the process fails, all discussions and negotiations that occurred during the mediation remain confidential, and the mediator cannot be called as a witness for either spouse to testify about what transpired during the mediation process.
How Much Does Mediation Cost?
Generally speaking, mediation costs less than traditional divorce litigation. Depending on the complexity of your divorce issues and willingness to participate in the mediation process, mediation typically lasts one to three sessions. Mediation services in Virginia can run around a couple of hundred dollars per hour, and it can cost a couple of thousand dollars to draft a mediated property settlement agreement that is split by the couple.
In comparison, traditional divorce litigation in court can last for weeks or months and your attorney fees’ will increase with every trip to the courthouse. Acrimonious negotiation lasts longer than mediated services in addition to the drafting of the finalized divorce agreement. At minimum, traditional divorce litigation costs thousands of dollars, and long or contentious litigation can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Talk to a Virginia Divorce Attorney Today
If you want to learn more about divorce mediation and whether it is right for your situation, a local Virginia divorce attorney can help. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options.