A message I received from a guy considering divorce mediation: Is it possible to just skip the legal battle and sit down with your wife’s attorney and negotiate an agreement? Does that ever happen? Will the court accept that? I don’t want to fight and am willing to financially support her and the kids. We are both miserable and both want out.
It is not only possible, but very wise to do what you are describing above. It’s called mediation, and in my opinion, a beautiful choice for divorce as opposed to litigation.
Mediation is when a couple sits down with either a mediator, or with both of their attorneys, and through a series of discussions figures out a settlement and child custody agreement that is acceptable to both of them.
It might take one meeting or it might take several, but when both have agreed to all the terms, the agreements are presented in front of a judge in court, who most likely will give his or her blessing and you are done. Done!
I’m not really sure why couples getting divorced automatically think litigation is their only option. Litigation, in my opinion is only necessary if one or both of the people getting divorced is too angry to sit down and have a conversation with his or her soon-to-be ex. Because, I will tell you, mediation forces the two of you to talk, and some couples are too far past that.
The bottom line is, if both people are rational, and both want the divorce to happen quickly and without spending an exorbitant amount of money on legal fees, they will choose mediation. Mediation is also a good route to take if you want your divorce kept private.
I do want to bring up one thing. You wrote “I don’t want to fight and am willing to financially support her and the kids.” I respect your saying that, but you have to really mean it. Because, once you start mediating you might not like some of the things you hear. Your ex might ask for something you think is ridiculous and you might offer her something she finds completely unacceptable.
The key in mediating is coming to an agreement that both of you can live with. You don’t want to feel like you got completely cheated out of what was rightfully yours, but you also don’t walk away feeling like you got the deal of the century. Both people usually walk away relatively happy, which is a good thing.
I wish more couples would consider mediation because in litigation, a judge is making huge decisions about your life within seconds. This is not a slam against judges, but the fact is that they are completely overwhelmed with way too many cases and too little time.
Mediation offers you all the time you need. It’s a calm discussion with professionals there to guide you to numbers and custody agreements that are fair and that are often the results they see in court. In other words, they are bringing you back the information they see from cases in litigation.
Lastly, as far as your comment, “We are both miserable and want out,” I’m sorry to hear that. If you mediate versus go through litigation, you will be “out” a lot sooner. The bottom line is, the best case I can make for mediation is that litigation can be a battle. Haven’t you had enough battling lately? Aren’t you tired of fighting? Mediation is a way to settle your divorce in a quiet room over coffee, versus in a judge’s courtroom where you have no decision making power. The choice is yours.