In the United States, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages will end in divorce. Your divorce does not have to be financially or emotionally destructive.
In Massachusetts, the role of the mediator is to help both parties come to an agreement on all the issues involved in a divorce, and to craft a divorce agreement that will be filed with the court and accepted by the court. The mediator’s goal is to resolve any issues between the husband and wife in a less formal setting where both parties feel as though they’ve been heard on their issues and are able to come to a result that’s satisfactory to both of them.
There are many benefits to mediation including:
- Faster process than a contested and/or litigated divorce.
- More individualized agreements can be developed.
- Reduced impact on the parties and/or children involved.
- More cost-effective than traditional divorce proceedings.
Deciding If Mediation is the Best Option
When people start to initiate the divorce process, they have a plethora of questions over what type of process they want to engage in. The important thing to know in regard to mediation is that it is less formal, you are more in control of crafting a solution for your disputes, and it is generally less costly than obtaining your own lawyer. Thus, a mediated divorce is beneficial for both parties. However, if you are the party that hasn’t had access to your information then you might want to educate yourself a little bit before engaging in the mediation process. Or perhaps, if you always feel overwhelmed or controlled by your spouse in some way, then you might want to obtain your own lawyer because sometimes in those situations you might not feel that any agreement that you reach would be even-handed. However, it is the job of mediation, the mediator, to make sure that that is not occurring. It is a comfort level that the party has to reach in coming to an agreement.
When you retain the services of a lawyer, you are represented in court. With a mediator, you are not represented. The mediator cannot give legal advice in any type, way, shape or form because it would be considered unethical. That is the problem with mediation because one lawyer cannot give legal advice to two people concerning the same dispute. So the mediator has to be very careful to not give legal advice. In fact, we encourage people going through a mediation to obtain a lawyer for legal advice. But sometimes, there are reasons that a case is inappropriate for mediation and they should obtain a lawyer at the onset.
For instance, there could be a dispute over inherited assets and no matter how much mediation a mediator does, there might not be an agreement on that point. In these cases where you need a tie breaker, you need to see a judge and generally you would do that, even though you may represent yourself before a judge. Generally, people get court intervention during the decision process as part of their representation when they have a lawyer.