How our divorce mediation differs from traditional litigation
All types of mediation involve neutral professionals who have experience negotiating and forging amicable settlements. Usually, mediators “shuttle” back and forth between the two parties, trying to broker deals that often leave everyone feeling unsatisfied. Shuttle diplomacy, while appropriate for some mediation, leaves the mediator as the only person with full knowledge of the parties’ positions.
At the Divorce Mediation Center, we do things a little differently. We work with both spouses directly, and at the same time: you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are together with us, so everything is out in the open from the beginning. We work together with both parties to help you resolve the issues arising between you as a result of your marriage. We look for innovative ways to find solutions that are good for both parties and the children, often times finding value in areas the courts could not or would not go.
We also work with other trusted professionals to help our clients achieve workable solutions. Our multi-disciplinary team includes mental health professionals, as well as attorneys with training and experience in family law matters all of whom have had training in mediation. We also work with financial experts, such as accountants, financial planners, and CPAs, when appropriate, who can help with asset management, tax planning, and income issues. Often, if you have a trusted financial adviser, we will try to utilize your professionals who have been familiar with your finances for some time.
Each mediation session lasts for about two hours. We meet about every seven to ten days, discussing new issues each time and updating our progress on the previous ones. Each session normally includes the spouses, a mediator (who may be an attorney and/or a mental health specialist), and, when applicable, an outside specialist who can address a particular need of our clients. Through mediation, both parties work on a solution that works for their particular circumstances. After both the parties have reached a tentative marital settlement agreement and, when applicable, a parenting plan, they are encouraged to consult with their independent counsel before executing that agreement.
Why mediators may be more beneficial than divorce lawyers when it comes to your needs
When we pursue mediation, we are problem-solving together so that all parties can live with the resolution under difficult circumstances. When you litigate, you are trying to win against the other party. Litigation is usually a short-term answer (even if it takes a long time). Families need long-term solutions that can endure and last a lifetime. Some of the many advantages of divorce mediation, especially as we conduct it, over litigation are:
- Less expensive than court litigation. A typical divorce in Northern Virginia with discovery and some modest disagreements can easily run $50,000 per party. And if there is major fighting, fees of more than $100,000 are common. Working with a divorce lawyer, therefore, is often far more expensive than working with a divorce mediator.
- More efficient than court contests. Litigation of divorce matters can take months, even years. Worse, many times a parent or spouse will need to come back into court repeatedly due to changes in circumstances or the need to enforce the contested agreement.
- Confidentiality. Litigation is a public process. Mediation is confidential in several respects. The mediator(s) will remain neutral and not take sides. Public disclosures online or in print are not allowed. The conversations cannot be used in court if an agreement can’t be reached.
- Better for the children and family. Divorce litigation can be stressful on your children. By working with both parties, our integrative team can help lower your stress levels, which can, in turn, help your children. We want the divorce transition to be as smooth as possible for you and your children.
- Healthy spousal communication and problem solving. Mediation helps parents reach a workable solution without unbearable financial pressures and with a minimum of animosity. Because our divorce mediators won’t speak to one spouse about an issue without the other present, or without consulting the other party as well, everything is out in the open all the time, and you can trust in us to be a truly neutral resource.
A negotiated mediation agreement often includes many more contingencies and much more detail than court imposed solutions. We often create solutions that may not be available to a court or that a court could not order but for the agreement of the parties. The more precise the agreement is, the less chance one spouse or both will need to ask the court for relief. The clearer and more workable the agreement is, the more the family members can adjust to their new lives.
How to make divorce mediation successful
Mediation works best when the parties understand that their goals are fairness, doing what is best for the children, avoiding the expense and anxiety of litigation, and reaching a stable solution that reasonably satisfies all family participants. Mediation can only work when both spouses are honest with each other about their wants, and concerns. Often both parties’ goals and interests can be satisfied if there is an understanding of the needs and concerns of both. Fair mediation also requires truthful disclosure of all assets and financial records. The alternative to hiding assets or non-disclosure of income is discovery, which can be very expensive and disorderly, normally involves subpoenas and depositions, and can interfere with business and personal relationships.
- We believe in being positive. Divorce is stressful enough. Our goal is help you and your spouse reach an agreement that works for both of you. We want you to feel empowered during the mediation process, not overwhelmed.
Please contact our Northern Virginia divorce mediation to arrange an initial session and learn how we can help you
Divorce trials pit people against each other; mediation helps them work together for a common goal, so they are empowered and feeling safe and secure at the end. Keep control of your lives by reaching out to the caring staff of Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd. today. You can call 703-665-7592 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. The initial consultation will be held with both parties, so we discover whether divorce mediation is right for you needs.
Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd. proudly serves the Northern Virginia Community, including those in Ashburn, Leesburg, Herndon, Reston, McLean, Vienna, Oakton, Falls Church, Fairfax, Great Falls, and Broadlands.