Common Myths About Divorce Mediation

The hand holds wooden wooden blocks with icons of a woman and a man and shaking hands in the act of consent.

If you are considering divorce, you may have heard of the term “mediation.” However, not many people know exactly what the process entails, and there are many misconceptions about it. Because of the numerous myths about divorce mediation, spouses sometimes dismiss the option — and choose to part ways using the costly, time-consuming, and adversarial litigation process instead. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that comes with many benefits, including keeping your costs down, controlling the outcome of your case, and maintaining amicability.

Here are five common myths about divorce mediation:

Myth #1: Mediation Doesn’t Work

One of the biggest myths about divorce mediation is that it doesn’t work. In most cases, mediation is highly effective — even if you and your spouse are not on the same page. Mediators are trained professionals who know how to find common ground and facilitate productive communication, even in high-conflict cases. Since the mediation process allows you to discuss the issues in your case openly and honestly, it can make it easier for spouses to collaborate and negotiate.

Myth #2: The Mediator Will Decide the Outcome

Unlike in litigation, where a judge decides the outcome of your case, a mediator does not make decisions for you. They are a neutral third party who helps to facilitate healthy communication between you and your spouse by providing a safe environment, teaching you communication techniques, and helping to level the playing field. By helping you minimize tension and explore creative solutions, the mediator will guide you and your spouse to reach a tailored settlement agreement that works for both parties.

Myth #3: It is Better to Litigate Your Case in Court

Many people believe the myth about divorce litigation that it is better to litigate in court. However, mediation has numerous advantages that can make it a better route than litigation. While litigation can be lengthy and expensive, mediation is efficient and may only require a few sessions to reach a settlement agreement. In addition, litigation lacks privacy. When a case is litigated in court, not only are hearings typically open to the public, but the documents in your case become part of the public record. If you work with a mediator, your personal and financial affairs can remain confidential and protected under the mediation privilege.

Another benefit that comes with mediation is controlling the outcome of your case. When a divorce case is resolved in court, a judge who does not know you and your family determines the outcome. Although a judge will apply the law and work to make a determination that is fair, this may result in consequences you had not intended. By mediating your case, you and your spouse can explore solutions for issues like child custody, child support, property division, alimony, and other matters that meet your family’s unique needs.

Myth #4: Mediation is Costly

Another myth about divorce mediation is that this alternative dispute resolution method is costly. Many people are surprised to find out that mediation is often far less expensive than litigation in the courtroom. In contrast with litigation, which can go on for months — depending on the court’s calendar and the level of conflict between spouses — mediation sessions are usually a few hours long and can be handled over the course of a few days.

The litigation process can also increase hostility and contentiousness, which can result in delays. The longer a case takes, the more it will cost. When spouses can cooperate and work together, they can reach a resolution faster and more cost-effectively.

Myth #5: You Don’t Need an Attorney

A major myth about divorce mediation is that you don’t need an attorney. This is not true — and it’s important to understand that a mediator does not serve as either spouse’s legal representative. While they serve as an intermediary to keep conflict low and ensure both spouses have the opportunity to voice their concerns, they do not give legal advice or advocate for either side.

Even if you and your spouse agree on all the issues in your case, you should still each retain independent counsel to protect your legal rights. Significantly, the provisions in your divorce settlement can have long-lasting legal and financial implications. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will know how to safeguard your best interests and prevent you from entering into an unfair agreement.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Mediation Attorney

If you and your spouse are thinking about parting ways, mediation can ensure you achieve an amicable resolution. A skillful family law attorney can discuss the advantages and myths about divorce mediation to help you understand whether it is right for your case. Located in Walnut Creek, Bednarczyk & Valerio, LLP offers confidential mediation services for a variety of family law matters, including divorce. Partner Cammila Valerio is a trained mediator available to provide impartial mediation services to parties. Call 925-464-2494 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.

Categories: Mediation