Mediation Versus Do-It-Your-Self Divorce – Which is Best?
A couple going through a divorce has basically three choices:
- Try to do their divorce by themselves.
- Pay attorneys to advocate for them against their spouse’s attorney.
- Work together through mediation.
Here is a look at the pros and cons of trying to do it themselves and/or working together through mediation followed by some analysis based on my personal perspective and experience.
Major Benefit of Working With a Divorce Mediator
The almost singular benefit of someone doing their own divorce is saving money. If the couple has children and is able to sort out all the custody, visitation, holiday scheduling and support issues on their own, then they have the added benefit of having the experience of being able to communicate and work together which will serve them as co-parents.
Disadvantages of Do-It-Yourself
The four main downsides of doing your own divorce are:
- Working closely with your soon to be ex-spouse to solve complex issues.
- Taking time to properly file legal paperwork.
- Having competency to file legal paperwork correctly.
- Risk of legal error or overlooking an important issue.
When a marriage is ending, it is difficult for both parties to consistently work together to sort out the details of their divorce. Usually there are some hard feelings around rejection, abandonment, betrayal and so forth that make a DIY divorce problematic. If these hard feelings impair the couple’s ability to communicate and make reasonable agreements, then DIY divorce is impossible.
Even if both spouses are calm and consistent in their agreement about the need to end their marriage, the time and skill level needed to do the paperwork to file for a divorce can be daunting. If both spouses are both working at demanding jobs (and/or if they are busy raising children) then they don’t often have the spare time to attend to the complexity of conducting a divorce process. Even a relatively cooperative couple would need to have the aptitude to manage the legal formalities. If the legal paperwork is not done correctly, the Court will reject it.
Finally there are numerous important legal issues in most divorce proceedings and without professional help, there is a chance of overlooking an important issue. If the couple is in debt or has little money then they probably have no choice other than to do it themselves but otherwise, the majority of divorcing couples decide to get professional help.
The benefits of mediation are that the couple receives skilled facilitation and some guidance through their divorce process at a fraction of the cost of hiring lawyers. They get guidance in identifying issues, help at finding solutions and the peace of mind knowing the paperwork is done correctly.
The top mediators build their practice by resolving cases efficiently and fairly. The cost falls slightly above a DIY approach and far below the cost of each spouse hiring a law firm to represent them. The couples who are still able to communicate and cooperate at some level can utilize mediation to deal with the sticky issues and resolve the easy ones themselves which will save them even more money.
Even high conflict couples can mediate successfully because they share the common goals of wanting to save money and move on with their lives. With the help of a skilled and experienced divorce mediator a couple can experience the benefits of “DIY” while minimizing or eliminating the detriments of trying to do their divorce without professional help.
I believe in the value of mediation when divorce becomes necessary. Call me for a free consultation.