The End Game
By Scott Levin
The average divorce rate in the US has hovered around the 50% mark for years and though recent reports show that rate may be falling (https://ifstudies.org/blog/the-us-divorce-rate-has-hit-a-50-year-low) what hasn’t changed is the number of divorces that end in settlements. Statistics show that only about 2% of divorces end in judgment, meaning in a courtroom with a trial and the judge deciding your fate. The vast majority get settled before it comes to that, so then why begin the court process at all if you can just use mediation services to come to a settlement from the get-go?
Mediation is quicker and less expensive and without a doubt, less contentious. Mediation can help couples divorce amicably and even teach them communication skills to use in the future. A recent study published in “Frontiers in Psychology” (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.578083/full) showed that immediately after divorce the couples will experience significantly worse mental and physical health than the rest of the population. The only exception was when there was little to no conflict, which is the goal when utilizing mediation to divorce.
When you hire a professional to mediate you are hiring someone to help you get to an agreement by working together. When you’re trying to decide who to hire it’s easy to get distracted by resumes, certifications, associations, and titles — of course that is all-important and the reason good legal professionals spend their weekends in continuing education courses – but the bottom line is you want to find someone who has a proven track record of getting to “yes.” You’re not paying a mediator to ramble off case law and fit your divorce into a box. You’re paying a mediator to get to a settlement quickly and conflict-free.
Whether you begin with mediation or choose to hire a mediator after the legal process has begun, it is an effective way to divide your assets and lives, especially if there are children involved and custody comes into play. Mediation works great for couples who can commit to being respectful and reasonable but also is effective when there is tension. Some couples choose to each retain their own attorney in addition to working with a mediator, others don’t. There is no one right way to divorce and certainly going to trial is no one’s hope for how a marriage should end.
Deciding to divorce is likely going to be the biggest decision of your life, bigger than even deciding to get married in the first place, and how you choose to proceed will make all the difference. A mediator will customize the divorce agreement by working together with the couple or family to find the best solutions and compromises to meet everyone’s needs. You don’t have to hate your former spouse after your divorce, nor should you make yourself sick during the process, instead allow mediation services to help you through this arduous process.
Chief PeaceKeeper Scott F. Levin is the founding partner of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law (858-255-1321). Mr. Levin is an active member of The Academy of Professional Family Mediators and many other organizations that promote the benefits of family mediation. Scott is also a licensed attorney in the state of California as well as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. He chooses to practice as a mediator to help clients reduce conflict and stay out of court.
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