What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases?

What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates you and the opposing party, typically your spouse or the other parent, in negotiating a settlement in your case. There are several potential benefits to mediation.

Benefits of Mediation

Privacy

Mediation is confidential. No one will know what goes on at the mediation except for the mediator, the parties and their attorneys. If you are able to negotiate a settlement, you do not have to air your dirty laundry in court.

Flexibility

You and your spouse or the other parent can negotiate a plan that is tailor-made for your needs and situation. You probably will not get that result from litigation.

Cost-Effective

If both parties are serious about resolving their differences out of court and coming to a settlement, mediation is typically far more cost-effective than protracted litigation.

Reduces Conflict

Mediation does not have the adversarial nature of litigation and can often reduce the conflict level between the parties. If you have to co-parent with this person in the future, less conflict in divorce helps contribute to a better long-term working relationship. In addition, there is a wealth of information out there that indicates that children of divorce fare far better when the conflict between the parents is kept to a minimum.

Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?

Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?

People are often unsure of how the whole divorce process works. The term “uncontested divorce” refers to a divorce where the parties do not go to court, and the divorce is submitted solely on the written agreement of the parties. If you retain this firm for an “uncontested divorce,” it will be drafted and sent to you for review. Once you approve in final form, it will be sent to your spouse for their signature. Nothing is filed with the Court until the agreement is complete and signed by both parties, and the Defendant will not be formally served with anything.

This means that you and your spouse must be able to agree on 100% of the terms of your divorce, including custody and visitation, child support, the marital homeplace, and disposition of other assets and debts. If you and your spouse do not agree on these major issues, then an uncontested divorce is probably not for you. I have certainly had clients over the years tell me, “we agree on everything except custody of the children.” Well, child custody is a major issue!

An uncontested divorce also does not afford the opportunity to conduct discovery, so if you don’t know anything about the family finances, then an uncontested divorce is probably not right for you. That being said, a case can start out as contested, and then eventually settle once both parties have the chance to get the information they need.

In sum, unless you and your spouse have open lines of communication, and you have discussed the divorce with them and are fairly certain you can agree, then it may not be wise to invest your valuable time and legal expenses on an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse have discussed and agreed on the terms, and you feel you have enough information to make an intelligent decision, then an uncontested divorce may be the route for you, as it is typically the quickest and least expensive way to get divorced.

4 Tips for Communicating with a High Conflict Person

4 Tips for Communicating with a High Conflict Person

4 Tips for Communicating with a High Conflict Person

First of all, what is a high conflict person (HCP)? This term often refers to individuals who have diagnosable personality disorders, but divorce and custody litigation are times of high stress that can lead even healthy individuals to be on their worst behavior. HCP is characterized by a pattern of behaviors that serve to increase conflict rather than resolve it. Examples of these behaviors are:

  • All or nothing thinking
  • Unmanaged emotions
  • Extreme behaviors
  • Blaming others

(Source: Billy Eddy, LSCW, JD, www.highconflictinstitute.com)

As a family law attorney with Herlihy Family Law, I frequently have clients who are struggling to communicate with a high conflict person. Some tips I give my clients are:

  1. Don’t try to convince them they are wrong or are being unfair.

    Logic does not work with someone who is embroiled in irrational thinking.

  2. Abandon the goal of “winning” an argument with them.

    HCPs like to argue so continuing to fight will only ensure that you remain trapped in a power struggle with them.

  3. Focus on the ultimate goal.

    If your goal is to coach Susie’s soccer team and they bring up that time you did something they did not like ten years ago, do not respond. Instead, re-direct the conversation back to the topic at hand.

  4. Keep your communication professional.

    Remember, your romantic relationship with this person is over, so it is not helpful to you to approach them on those terms. Remain calm and business-like. If necessary, restrict your communication with the HCP to written-only methods, such as email.