From the Simple to the Complex, Mediation Can Help
Title: From The Simple To The Complex, Mediation Can Help
by Guest Author Joe Dillon
If you’re contemplating a divorce and thinking about mediating, you may be thinking it all sounds too good to be true. After all, there has to be a reason why people hire lawyers and spend years of their lives battling in court and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process, right? How could two people possibly sit down with a neutral third party and work through all of the issues necessary, in a fraction of the time, for a fraction of the cost, and peaceably move on with their lives?
It’s not only possible, but also probable as more and more people just like you are mediating their divorces every day. From short-term marriages with no children to couples who have been married 30 years and are multi-millionaires, mediation can help anyone as long as they are willing to do three things:
- Be actively engaged in the process – after all this is your divorce and your decisions to make; and
- Be open and honest – mediation is a good faith negotiation and requires the parties to voluntarily disclose all pertinent financial information; and
- Be willing to “give some to get some” – no divorce settlement, whether mediated or litigated will ever be heavily skewed towards one party unless there was incompetence by one of the parties’ attorneys or the mediator.
To illustrate my point, here are two examples of real cases with the names and identifying details changed, of course, to protect the confidentiality of the parties.
The Simple: The Story of George and Lisa
George and Lisa had been married five years when they came to us. George worked in a bank and Lisa was a bookkeeper, each making roughly the same salary per year, and had no children together. So the only real issues they needed to resolve were those surrounding their marital assets and liabilities, specifically their house.
As they bought the house at the height of the market, selling it at the time of their divorce probably wasn’t the greatest idea either as they were just starting to see a small profit. A profit that would be immediately gone had they needed to spend it on lawyers.
By mediating their divorce, the three of us were able to discuss creative ways for them to keep the house, share in its upkeep and have a plan for how they would evaluate it and decide when to sell it. Discussions were kept friendly, each party’s needs and concerns were addressed and they were able to resolve everything in a single session for a fraction of what they would have even spent on attorney’s retainers.
In the case of George and Lisa, mediation was the perfect solution as it allowed them resolve peacefully and cost-effectively the one main issue that could have really tripped them up. They partner on good terms and to this day are still earning some money as co-landlords on their former marital home.
The Complex: The Story of Bob and Sue
On the other end of the spectrum are Bob and Sue. When they came to us they had been married 32 years, had two children in college and owned a number of rental properties as well as a successful catering business together. As they both had a lot to lose, you may be thinking to yourself, how could they possibly mediate their divorce? Shouldn’t they go and get lawyers to protect themselves?
Since Bob and Sue were entrepreneurs, they both had experience being actively engaged in their business so it was only natural they’d want to be hands on in their divorce as well. And since Sue did the books for their business ventures, she knew what all the assets and liabilities were and was able to fully disclose all information needed to effectively negotiate the terms of their divorce.
In the end Bob and Sue were smart enough to recognize that if they each dug in their heels and didn’t budge everything they had worked to build would all go down the drain. The business would need to be sold, the rental properties would be gone and nothing would remain for them to leave to their children. By coming to an agreement through mediation, they were able to keep all of their hard earned money instead of handing it over to attorneys and to come to a resolution they both found fair.
And because the mediation took four months instead of three years like a typical litigated divorce, they were able to stay focused on running their business instead of engaging in a protracted courtroom battle that would have consumed all of their time and money. Can you imagine what it would have been like if they litigated and still had to run their business together? Impossible!
Mediation Is Possible If You Follow The Three Golden Rules
With the help of a trained professional mediator, you and your spouse can peacefully and cost-effectively separate your lives as long as you follow the three rules which to repeat are:
- Be actively engaged
- Be open and honest
- Be willing to “give some to get some”
Follow these three easy to remember tips and you’ll be able to mediate your divorce with as little stress on you and your family as possible.
This site is for informational purposes only. Nothing here should be construed as legal advice.
Equitable Mediation Services’ Founder & Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon oversees the firm’s practice areas of divorce mediation and divorce financial analysis and works personally with clients in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To learn more about Equitable Mediation and the services they offer please visit http://www.equitablemediation.com/ or call (877) 732 6682.
For a free consultation about whether family mediation in Virginia would be helpful for you, contact Virginia Colin, Director, at mediatorQ@gmail.com or 703.864.2101. All of the mediators in Colin Family Mediation Group are certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia.