For better or for worse, everyone in this country has a right to his / her day in court. If your spouse is bound and determined to go to court, there’s ultimately not much you can do about it. You might, however, be able make that day shorter and less stressful with divorce mediation .
We’ll begin with the assumption that you have tried with your spouse to negotiate your divorce on your kitchen table. Most couples have a hard time with this. By definition, there’s already plenty of tension in the relationship. A good lawyer, or two, can actually make the process more manageable. One option is mediation, using one attorney. That attorney won’t represent either of you, and will work toward a negotiated solution.
The primary benefit is that both of you will then have solid divorce mediation advice on which to base your decisions. This will not mean that the family lawyer will tell you what the right answers are. You will be informed of all the legal issues you need to know and the long term ramifications, it will be up to you to decide what fits. Often, either or both spouses will choose to confer with his / her own independent attorney, too.
In my practice I get calls every day from people who had chosen not to use a lawyer, even in cases involving homes, children, pension plans, or all of the above and more. They later discovered that a matter that could easily have been resolved with competent divorce mediation advice now is requiring expensive damage control. What’s happened at that point usually is that he or she has made some decisions based on (often mutual) good intentions and that has backfired on them as they didn’t fully understood the legal implications. Divorce at best needs to be an informed and understood decision ,not necessarily a hostile costly one.
Nowhere is it truer that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Divorce Mediation offers a way to resolve some, most and often all the issue without anyone even having to appear in court. It’s an Alternative that is not necessarily less expensive. (Obviously, it isn’t Appropriate in all cases, such as cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.)
Whether you decide to mediate or litigate, it’s critical that you get good legal advice so that you understand the implications of your decisions, for today, five years from now and, in some cases, for a lifetime.
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