When you make the decision to get divorced, you might find yourself wondering how to even begin the process. Do you need to hire a family lawyer? Most of us have seen divorce portrayed in movie scenes with cutthroat attorneys arguing back and forth over the family home and possessions. Affairs are uncovered, crimes are plotted, and things always seem to be very complicated.
But what most folks don’t realize is that this isn’t an accurate representation, it’s Hollywood drama. The divorces of the real world rarely play out like that and would make for terrible entertainment. The truth is, that unless you have personal experience or have been close to a divorce by proxy, you probably don’t realize that for amicably parting couples, divorce is largely a financial transaction. Most divorces never make it to the courtroom.
Many divorcing couples choose to work with family divorce mediators over hiring an actual family lawyer. One of the reasons for this is that it’s often the least cumbersome and most cost-efficient path to an uncontested divorce. Litigation is usually the last choice, but whether you end up in court really depends on how willing both spouses are to negotiate and compromise on sometimes complicated financial and parenting issues.
So, how do you determine whether choosing to hire a family lawyer or hiring a mediator is appropriate for you?
♦ Things are Messy and the Divorce Settlement Process is Involved
If you are involved in a contested divorce filled with pain points and emotional turmoil, hiring a family law lawyer is probably a smart move. Divorce mediation requires collaboration. If you can’t see eye-to-eye and every open dialogue during the negotiation process somehow reaches an impasse, mediation may not be right for your divorce.
♦ There is a Serious Threat of Violence Involved in Your Relationship
Mediation is not recommended if you are exiting an abusive marriage. Breaking away from an abusive relationship presents its own set of challenges. Your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has already demonstrated that they are not concerned about your well-being. The state of Maryland provides some dedicated resources for victims of domestic violence. You can also call 1-800-MD-HELPS for support.
Family Divorce Mediation as an Alternate to Attorney Services
If your divorce is uncontested, mediation may be the right choice for you. Mediators who specialize in divorce should be knowledgeable about state laws and legal procedures and skilled in divorce settlement negotiation. When you separate the emotional aspect from the act of divorce, finances and the division of shared marital assets becomes the focus of negotiation. That’s why some mediators become Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFA®), refining their skillset to help clients expertly navigate any financial pitfalls when it comes to dividing marital assets. CDFAs® specialize in identifying financially sound and creative divorce settlements that take the interests of both parties involved into account. With a CDFA® you get an optimal settlement that is based on accurate valuations, taxes, and both the short and long term impact on your financial health.
Filing Legal Documents and Retaining a Lawyer
Some divorcing couples work with mediators but also decide to retain a family law attorney to review the final documents and paperwork before officially filing. While this isn’t necessary and many divorcing couples choose to circumvent the process to save money on attorney fees, TruNorth Divorce doesn’t discourage clients from working with a family lawyer as a consultant.
Going through a divorce can be difficult. But remember, you aren’t alone. As with any stressful life event, it’s good to reach out to your support network. While friends and family offer one such avenue of support, talking to a counsellor or mental health professional and seeking out divorce support groups are healthy paths that can help you through this big life transition. Visit our website to learn more about divorce mediation, explore our resources, or schedule a free consultation.