If you are in the process of getting a divorce, just the thought of a long drawn out court procedure can be exhausting. Splitting up has likely already taken a huge emotional and financial toll on you, your spouse, and any children in the family. In this case, it might make more sense for you and your spouse to try mediation as a way to settle your divorce.
Mediation allows the parties to work through the divorce process outside of a courtroom. This saves money, time, and a lot of formalities, as well as puts the power more firmly in the hands of the couple, rather than given to a judge. In this setting, many couples find it easier to really compromise and determine the best possible outcome for their situation.
Mediation v. Litigation v. Arbitration
But what is mediation? Mediation is when the two spouses (and possibly their lawyers) hire a neutral, third party negotiator to help them come to terms on their divorce, all of which are confidential. The spouses work together to come to an agreement, and the mediator is there to help them along, but not make any of the actual decisions. Mediation decisions can be binding or nonbinding.
Litigation is the traditional method of divorce, where the couple goes to court and the judge determines their outcome. This is often expensive, and can be risky, as the judge might make a ruling that favors one spouse over the other. This could lead to tension between the two, which would not be a great way to move forward in the co-parenting of the couples’ children. In some cases, however, litigation may the only viable method to resolve certain marital disputes.
Arbitration is a more formal version of mediation, and all decisions are binding. Each side chooses an arbitrator, and a third arbitrator joins, making a panel of arbitrators who will make the decisions by a majority vote.
Mediation Checklist in Pennsylvania
If you are getting ready for mediation in Pennsylvania, there are a few things you might want to do to prepare. Consider the following:
- Complete disclosure
- Both parties need to be transparent about everything, including finances, their preferences, and any additional information
- Be sure to bring important documents like your marriage certificate, tax returns, income information, prenuptial agreements, and insurance policies
- Come informed
- Know the worth of your home, who wants custody of the children, the biographical information of the children who will be keeping the family home (if anyone), what property was marital property or acquired before the marriage
Coming to the table with these things will make the process much quicker and easier for all involved. The whole point of mediation is to come to decisions on these important issues together, and being prepared will make a big difference. Remember, mediation is an option that works best with parties who are willing to work together.
Is This The Right Option For You?
Mediation is a very successful way to figure out the details of your divorce. If you and your spouse feel that this may be the best option for you, contact our Bucks County divorce attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand. Our experienced attorneys can work with you to determine if mediation is the best option for you and, if it is the best option, help you and your spouse come to an agreement and make this process as easy as possible.