Some divorces in Virginia can be resolved quickly if you and your spouse cooperate and can agree on issues of support, property division and custody. However, your divorce can be drawn-out if you and your spouse do not get along and cannot reach a mutual agreement regarding these issues. In either case, you may benefit from divorce mediation to help in finalizing your divorce.
Divorce mediation is a non-binding process where you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, meet with an impartial third party to discuss possible resolutions of the issues involved in your divorce. The goal is to identify ways in which you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement without forcing the court to decide. Here are four advantages to using mediation in your divorce.
Because mediation is informal, non-binding, and the rules of evidence do not apply, preparation will be less time-consuming and much cheaper than for a divorce trial which could take days. While the day of mediation itself may cost a fair amount of money—as you will be paying for your attorney as well as a share of the mediator’s hourly rate—this cost is much lower than what you would pay in attorney’s fees and court costs if you are involved in a divorce battle. In fact, in Virginia, many counties require divorcing couples to attend one free mediation session with a neutral retired judge or seasoned divorce attorney to help resolve cases in advance and reduce the number of divorce trials.
Let’s face it, you may not want to come face-to-face with your spouse during divorce and doing so may just lead to arguing and fighting – which is a waste of time, money and aggravation. In mediation, unlike divorce settlement conferences, you and your attorney will likely be separated from your spouse and their attorney in separate rooms. The mediator will act as an intermediary between both you and your spouse, delivering questions and offers back and forth. This keeps emotions at a reasonable level, and allows for confidential and informal conversations with your attorney and the mediator regarding your spouse’s actions and potential litigation outcomes.
One of the most advantageous aspects of the mediation process is the amount of control you have. Unlike settlement conferences and court proceedings, you are free to walk away from the mediation process at any time. In addition, you can control all aspects of what is decided and what topics or issues are covered in reaching a resolution. This is in stark contrast to trial proceedings where the court is forced to reach a determination based on limited information and restricted input from you and your spouse, the rules of evidence, as well as time constraints. Mediated outcomes will be more specifically tailored to you and your spouse’s ongoing needs, particularly on custody and visitation issues.
Adherence to the Mediated Settlement Agreement
Though any agreement you reach with your spouse will need to be endorsed by a judge—which means you can be penalized by the court for not abiding by its terms—if you and your spouse reach a mediated solution you will both be more likely to adhere to the agreement. In fact, if you and your spouse can reach a mutually agreeable resolution, there is an increased likelihood of improved relations with your spouse and an ease of tensions. This can be significant, especially if you have children and will be forced to have face-to-face contact with your spouse during child custody exchanges.
At DiPietro Law Group, we have a team of highly qualified family law attorneys with years of experience guiding our clients through the mediation process. If you are facing a divorce, custody, or any other family law case in Northern Virginia or Washington, D.C., call us today at (888) 530-4374.