10 REASONS TO TRY DIVORCE MEDIATION by William J. Leininger, Esq.
You've decided to seek a divorce. Your nerves are frayed; the in-laws are asked pointed questions; the children are beginning to act up in all-too-transparent ways; and your pleasantness is in the midst of an earthshaking landslide. What can you do? Clearly, you can hire legal advice. But who? Here's a checklist of reasons why working with a trained mediator can often help:
1. It costs less.
When both spouses meet with one Divorce Mediator they can share the cost, which is commonly $2,200 to $6,500 for middle class couples, somewhat more if millions of dollars of assets, or a professional practice or business is involved. If the spouses were to retain separate attorneys to represent them in the divorce, each would be paying a retainer of between $5,000 and $20,000 just to get started!
2. You have control.
In Divorce Mediation the couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions are made, when the divorce Petition is filed, and what the terms of the divorce will be in the Marital Settlement Agreement. Each step is by agreement, in contrast to the adversarial process in which attorneys set court dates and judges make decisions with very limited time and information.
3. Paperwork done for you.
Many people try to do their own divorces these days, but run into difficulty trying to understand the laws and the complex paperwork involved. A mediator who is an attorney can prepare the Marital Settlement Agreement for you to review - line by line, and to ask questions about anything you don't understand.
4. Easier on the children.
The worst aspect of a divorce for children is the conflict between the parents. It will be traumatic enough for them, but they can heal knowing that their parents are working together to make adult decisions and will not put them in the middle.
5. Easier on you.
The way your marriage ends will significantly impact the way you approach your future relationships. When you use a mediator to help both of you communicate and make important decisions, it can be easier to move forward and accept the past, rather than turning hurt and anger into an expensive court battle.
6. You can still go to court.
When people use divorce mediation, they do not give up their right to go to court. If you are not satisfied in mediation, you can stop at any time, retain a separate attorney and have the judge decide the issues. What has occurred in mediation will remain confidential, so the parties can start fresh.
7. You will learn to understand the legal issues applicable to your case.
In divorce mediation with an attorney you will be provided with enough general legal information to make your own decisions about what is fair. While an attorney acting in the role of mediator cannot give legal advice to either party, Mr. Leininger will urge each spouse to consult with a separate attorney for legal advice, especially before signing the Marital Settlement Agreement.
8. Emotions can be managed.
Many people simply want to be heard and understood in the divorce process. However, on their own this can get out of control, as each person triggers anger and resentment in the other -- often unintentionally. A mediator trained in counseling can assist the parties in acknowledging feelings but not allowing feelings to control the decision-making process.
9. It's confidential.
In private divorce mediation, when the Divorce Mediator is a Florida Supreme Court certified Family Mediator (which Mr. Leininger is), all discussions and tentative agreements are confidential. This makes it safe to propose solutions for possible consideration without having them all thought out. This can lead to new solutions neither party had previously considered.
10. It builds on the positive.
In mediation, both parties are encouraged to recognize the positive in the other person and to find common ground for agreement. In court, each side must emphasize the negative about the other person in order to "win" against the other. Especially when there will be future contact between the parties, such as in parenting, whatever goodwill remains between the parties should be preserved and not destroyed.
Picking a Divorce Mediator
Since 1994, Mr. Leininger has mediated over 700 mediations to completion. Many of these mediations have invloved business owners and their spouses as well as health professionals, including Internists, Radiologists, Urologists, Orthopedic Surgeons, Dentists, Nurse Practitioners, etc. He has also worked with couples who have substantial assets in the millions of dollars. He has also mediated many cases involving Civil Service pensions paying out $75,000, $100,000 or even more each year to the pensioner! In Florida, the Supreme Court of Florida certifies Divorce Mediators. Mr. Leininger is a Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator, and has also been a member of the Florida Bar limiting his law practice in Florida to Family Law matters for the past 25 years. We believe that he can help you and your spouse dissolve your marriage with dignity and with as little harmful effects as possible to you and any children of the marriage.
In picking a Divorce Mediator, ask how many mediations that person has completed. Many people are just adding mediation to another practice area and may have done only five or ten mediations. Mr. Leininger has mediated well over 700 divorces to completion, including cases involving difficult custody issues and millions of dollars in assets.
While mediation isn't the only alternative to an ugly divorce experience, it is one to seriously consider.
If Divorce Mediation sounds like a better alternative than expensive and emotionally damaging litigation in court, why not call our office at (941) 727-5555 and schedule an initial meeting which will last approximately 45 minutes at a reduced fee of only $150. If Mr. Leininger does not answer, he is probably in a mediation session. In that event, you can call his secretary at (941) 538-7771 and she will answer your questions and make your appointment.