Mediation Is Less Costly Than Litigation

Probably the single most frequently asked question we hear is, "How much is this divorce going to cost me?" No one can answer this question with any certainty and here's why: A divorce requires two participants, and we cannot control the actions of the other participant. He or she might hire an attorney who immediately commences aggressive litigation.

If the other side is aggressively litigating, you will spend more getting your divorce. [A side note here: Before you decide to go into your divorce with all guns blazing, first gather the facts, and if possible, have your attorney contact your spouse's attorney. Perhaps some issues can be agreed upon before litigation commences, saving both parties money.]

On the other hand, if both parties agree to mediate their divorce, we can say with all certainty that you will spend a fraction of what you would spend in a litigated divorce. Please be aware, however, that mediation is not a one-size-fits-all solution to a divorce. Sometimes, you simply must litigate to protect your rights, and litigation is the only way to obtain what you are owed.

Mediation Offers Privacy In A Divorce

Privacy is always a key concern, even to noncelebrities. After all, when you come to court to litigate your case, your most intimate life — financial and personal — is often made a part of the public record. It is the law in California that divorce courts are open to the public, so we never know who we will see there. Some individuals come to different courtrooms just to observe, or for curiosity's sake. That is their right.

Every single word spoken in a hearing before the judge is recorded by a court reporter. Those words can end up in a transcript, which is a booklet drafted by the court reporter comprised of every single word spoken in your hearing. Those transcripts are freely available as long as a person is willing to pay for the work involved in transcribing the hearing.

Another reality to keep in mind is that going to court and litigating requires filing documents with the court. Those documents might be completely innocuous and then again, they might not be. For instance, if your spouse is accusing you of bad behavior, his or her beliefs about what he or she thinks you've done will end up filed with the court and become a part of the public record. Public record means your neighbor can go up to the court and order a copy of your file.

Your divorce file normally contains an Income and Expense Declaration, which shows both your and your spouse's incomes, has paycheck stubs attached to it, and lists all of your expenses and the value of your assets. W-2s are often attached to these Declarations, as well as credit card debt, the amount of your home or car payment, how much money you spend on medical bills – all highly confidential information!

So think about it. Mediation affords you more privacy, but if you must litigate your case, there is another approach to make the entire process more private and less embarrassing.

Mediation Puts You In Control Of Your Children's Lives

Mediation allows parents to attempt to communicate in a low-stress environment about what they want for their children, and what they think the children want. We've done mediation for years, and can offer solutions for you that perhaps you and your partner would not have otherwise considered.

In a divorce, we often see parents who cannot stand the thought of spending even one day without seeing their children, yet they have to consider that this is a possibility when a divorce is filed. Sometimes that sadness prevents a parent from making a child-centered decision, and in those cases, we often recommend that the parent engage a counselor for the child or children.

Children usually hate the thought that they have to make a choice between living with their mother or with their father (and they should not; never pose this question to a child); normally, children love both of their parents. Nonetheless, a counselor can often make the parents aware of developmental milestones a child is going through which would indicate that child should spend the majority of the time with one parent. Sometimes children are not the best judge of where they should live or why, although their preferences (if expressed) should at least be part of the discussion.

The bottom line is, however, that you and your spouse or partner attempt to make decisions together for your children that are in their best interests, not yours. Otherwise, you are essentially asking a stranger (the judge) to make decisions for you that will affect you and your children for years to come.

Mediation Offers A Chance Of Peace For Your Family

We know of one couple for whom we mediated their divorce and when their daughter married just two years later, they were both at her wedding with their respective dates, getting along very well together. This happens in divorces as well, but it happens more frequently in mediations. Litigation means squaring off against your spouse in a court of law, whereas mediation is a more congenial means of arriving at decisions.

Contact The Law Office of Patricia A. Hendrickson today to discuss your situation and to learn whether mediation may be the best choice for your divorce proceedings in Orange County, California.