Updated: Aug 31, 2019
By: Allan J. Weltman, Family Law Mediator.
When dealing with a short term marriage, no joint assets or liabilities, both parties living in the same county, a Simple Divorce should be used. Once the documents have been prepared and signed by both parties, one person can take the documents to the court house and file them. There will be a short hearing that both parties must attend. A Judge will hand the parties a divorce decree.
In all other cases, you need to talk to your spouse to make sure you are in complete agreement on all issues.
Currently, it is all to easy to provide basic information and have your divorce documents prepared for you on line. The parties are usually in agreement that the marriage is over. What they are not sure of, is are they forgetting something that may be important. The documents are done, you have paid for them. One or both parties are not sure they want to sign them. This is called, backing yourself into a corner with very few options.
In some cases, your spouse will hire an attorney. In that case you should consider doing the same thing. There is no such thing as an attorney working with both parties to obtain a divorce. An attorney can only represent one party. If money is an issue, you can ask the court for court ordered mediation. By doing this, you can continue to be pro se (unrepresented). Both parties must select a Mediator by agreement of the parties. Your spouse and their attorney will meet with you in an un adversarial settling. The mediator is a fair and impartial third party who represents no one. Their job is to help the parties resolve the issues. Once this is done, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.
The problem with this type of divorce is, the party who hired the attorney paid a large amount of money to be represented. In the end, this money will come from the joint assets. Here is one of the best kept secrets. It is called pre-suit mediation. This is where the parties hire a mediator when they decide the marriage is not going to work. Here are a few of the reasons you should do this.
A seasoned Family Mediator has been handling divorces for a long time. They have dealt with every set of circumstances you can think of. Mediator’s do not provide you with legal advice. But they can suggest several options to resolve an issue. You pick which ever one might work for you. Mediator’s do not sell you services. They can, suggest the type of professional you might want to consult with to resolve an issue.
Mediation is confidential. What you say in mediation (with a few exceptions) cannot be introduced in a court of law. This gives you an opportunity to discuss what you want without repercussions.
Some Mediators use very sophisticated programs which allow them to provide you with information which assists you in selecting a future path that may be beneficial tax wise. Or suggesting you have your accountant look at your agreement before it is put into a Marital Settlement Agreement.
The bottom line is that Mediators are there to assist you in making the right choices.Yes, mediation does add to the cost of your divorce. It is However far less expensive to have a comprehensive settlement agreement with the assistance of a mediator, than it is to try to fix a bad agreement which you signed.