By Scott Levin, Esq., Mediator
There are two main divorce process options: litigation and mediation.
In this blog post, we will focus on mediation.
To provide some context, in litigation, one lawyer represents a husband or wife and another lawyer represents the other spouse.
In a mediated divorce, both spouses hire one divorce professional — someone who is skilled in the mediation process — to help them establish the terms of their divorce.
Mediators assist in gathering information, analyzing the issues of the divorce, and providing creative options to aid the parties in reaching understanding and consensus. The mediator then prepares and files all the documents necessary to finalize the divorce with the court. The divorcing parties never have to go to court or even leave their homes, which is particularly helpful during this pandemic.
Mediation Involves Forming Teams — The Mediator and Spouses Versus The Problems of Divorce.
To mediate successfully, you do NOT need to be “getting along.” Mediation is not just an option for divorcing spouses who are on friendly terms. Mediators, like litigators, work with clients who are often hurt, fearful, and distrusting. They help to reduce conflict by focusing on the spouses’ futures, creating a team with them, and keeping their focus on the issues of their divorce as opposed to any resentments they may have against each other.
Divorce Mediation is not spouse versus spouse as in litigation, but rather spouse AND spouse versus the problems of divorce. The mediator and the two spouses spend time solving problems through creativity and dialogue. The problems are often the same — how to divide the community property, how to create a plan for the future financial well-being of the parties, and how to arrange for the shared parenting of children.
You don’t have to look any further than championship-winning sports teams to find many examples of teammates who are not friendly off the court, but are able to work together for their mutual benefit when the game starts. The new Michael Jordan documentary airing now on ESPN gives insight into the 6-time champion Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan did not get along with most of his teammates and they weren’t friends. But when the lights turned on, they were able to focus on their mutual goals to come together to defeat the other teams.
In mediation, the decision-making authority rests exclusively with the parties.
This is a very important point as there is a widely-held belief that the more ownership each person takes in their divorce by seeking out information and understanding the issues and options, the more satisfied they will be post-divorce.
Statistically, less than 10% of people who mediate their divorce end up back in court after their divorce is finalized.
In contrast, litigated divorces see about 50% of the people return to court at some point, which tends not to be in the best interest of the families.
The objective of your divorce is to reach a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of your family.
Mediation can afford you the opportunity to save considerable time, money, and unnecessary pain.
This requires a degree of real talk — your divorce settlement is more about what you can live with and what is best for the family as a whole than being validated and wanting payback for perceived past wrongs.
Scott Levin, Esq. is a Divorce Mediator with Vesta’s San Diego, CA Hub and founding Partner of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law. Scott is passionate about helping people make the right decisions during their most vulnerable time. After years of experiencing the destructive “win-lose” litigation structure facing divorcing couples, Scott has made the choice to put clients first by developing a successful private mediation practice that fosters innovative solutions and mutually agreeable resolutions through collaboration, communication, and cooperation. Scott understands the value of a team approach to helping clients at all stages of divorce and is appreciative to connect with San Diego’s top professionals through Vesta. You can find Scott online at https://sandiegofamilylawyer.net.