There are a number of processes available to divorce litigants to try to resolve their case early and without the need for the court to get involved. It’s not as though we are incapable of going to court and trying cases, but the fact remains that a trial can be rather expensive and time consuming, and so we want to try to work out a resolution any other way that we can.
One of the ways to do that is through mediation where we may hire a neutral to sit down with us and talk over the facts of your case and discuss your ideas about how to resolve the matter. There are other processes like early neutral evaluation where the evaluator is there to offer an evaluative opinion. That’s the big difference between a mediation and an early neutral evaluation. In mediation, the role of the mediator is to serve as a complete neutral. They’re not there to offer their opinions, they’re there to facilitate a conversation.
A lot of people ask, “Well, why would I want to resolve my case at mediation?” There really are four key reasons. First, you remain in control of the outcome, and I think that’s the most important reason. Judges are good people, they’re smart, and they’ve got a lot of experience, but sometimes they make bad decisions. You certainly don’t want to fall victim to a bad decision or catching a judge on a bad day. It’s obviously better if you can control the case outcome instead of a third party.
The second reason involves cost. Mediation can be a somewhat expensive process, but it’s minimal compared to the costs involved with going to trial and litigating a case. Third, from the standpoint of timing, you get the case done, time has value to people, finality has a value, and so it may make sense for you to want to not live day in and day out in the stress and chaos of a dissolution.
Then finally, we do find that if litigants are able to reach an agreement through mediation, they are much more likely to not only abide by that agreement but also to get along better after the divorce is final. For the sake of children, if you have them, or for the sake of any other business that you may have to do with your spouse in the future, it likely makes sense to try to position yourselves as best you can with one another going forward.
The last thing that anybody wants to have is a child wondering on their wedding day whether mom and dad are going to get along or not. What we do find is that cases that go to trial involve a lot of acrimony, where cases that resolve in mediation do tend to have litigants that feel okay about the outcome, and therefore treat each other more respectfully after the process.