All posts by Karen Salib

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Five Ways a Divorce Mediator Can Save You Time and Money

Divorce can be an expensive and extremely time-consuming ordeal. It leaves many people wondering if there is a better way. The traditional divorce process often requires you to solicit the help of an expensive attorney, endure endless court proceedings, and often accept as final a decision handed down by a judge. However, there are alternatives, and using a divorce mediator is one of the least stressful.

A divorce mediator seeks to cut down on the time and expense associated with the traditional divorce process, while helping parties efficiently craft custom-tailored solutions to their divorce dilemmas. Here, for example, are five ways that a divorce mediator can save you time and money in your divorce.

  1. Mediation sessions are conducted in the comfort and privacy of the divorce mediator’s office – not in a courtroom. Your divorce mediator will work around your schedule in planning mediation sessions and can often accommodate appointments over lunch, in the evening, and even on weekends. This means that you can save time that might otherwise be wasted in court waiting for your case to be heard, and avoid the unpleasant prospect of airing “dirty laundry” in open court.
  1. Many divorce mediators, including the attorney-mediators at SnapDivorce Mediation, disclose all costs and fees upfront. They require just one affordable, flat-fee retainer payment. In contrast, all divorce attorneys essentially require an initial retainer payment, which they will bill against your account on an hourly basis. In the vast majority of cases, this initial retainer is quickly exhausted and you are required to make additional payments to cover ongoing costs. Since the traditional divorce process is unpredictable, it is virtually impossible to determine how much your divorce will cost prior to its conclusion.
  1. In the traditional divorce process, the parties often appear before a judge, who will hear each side’s argument and then issue an order. In many cases, neither party is happy with the result. Some people will appeal the judge’s decision, which results in continuing litigation and additional costs. Other disgruntled clients will simply refuse to follow the order, leading to contempt proceedings and, of course, more attorney fees. On the other hand, divorce mediation requires the input and agreement of each party to move forward. So couples who mediate are more likely to be happy with the result and subsequently to comply with their agreements. This saves both time and money.
  1. Mediation sessions allow the parties to communicate directly with each other, in real time. This is a benefit over the traditional divorce process, which inevitably requires a lot of back-and-forth communication between the attorney and client, as well as between the attorneys. This can cause delays and an increase in unnecessary fees.
  1. Mediators are “third-party neutrals,” who will assist you and your former spouse or partner in reaching an efficient, amicable resolution to your divorce issues. Although mediation sessions can at times be emotionally charged and intense, a mediator can help parties successfully address and navigate these feelings so that the parties stay focused on the issue at hand. This will allow each party’s voice to be heard — without losing sight of the ultimate goal — and will lead to a quicker resolution of your case.

If you are interested in learning more about how you could benefit from divorce mediation, contact SnapDivorce here.

 

Divorce Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer or Divorce Mediator: That is the Question

One of the most important decisions you will make after deciding to separate from your spouse is choosing how to navigate the divorce process. Some will decide to go at it alone, while others prefer to enlist the assistance of an expert.   If you have chosen the latter, the real question then becomes selecting the professional that you will employ to guide you through the legal maze toward a final resolution of your case. There are two types of experts that are well equipped to handle your divorce matter: divorce lawyers and divorce mediators.

A divorce lawyer is a highly-trained legal professional who can advise you regarding your rights under the law and provide guidance and support during the stressful divorce process if you want to litigate. Litigation means, essentially, presenting your case in court before a judge. Your divorce lawyer will only represent your interests throughout the divorce, and is not permitted to give legal advice to your spouse. You may need a divorce attorney if the following facts sound familiar:

  1. You (or your spouse) want to know what rights you are entitled to under the law. Only a skilled divorce lawyer can provide you with this legal information.
  2. Your spouse has indicated that he or she will not cooperate with you to process and resolve the divorce.
  3. The circumstances surrounding the end of your marriage have rendered communication virtually impossible. If there is little to no dialogue between you and your spouse, it may be necessary to hire a divorce lawyer to articulate your side for you, and to set forth your position.
  4. One party has little or no knowledge of the income or finances of the other, or believes the other party will not be honest in providing financial information.
  5. You and your spouse cannot discuss or attempt to resolve even the most minor issues without yelling or losing your temper.

A divorce mediator is a highly-trained professional who will act as a third-party “neutral” throughout your divorce matter if you do not want to litigate. This expert can provide information about the divorce process in general, and can assist you and your spouse work through and resolve all issues related to your divorce. However, as the term “neutral” implies, the mediator will not provide legal advice and does not represent the interests of either party. Your case might be better suited for mediation if the facts below describe your situation:

  1. You and your spouse are open to the idea of divorce mediation. Since mediation requires the agreement of both parties, this is a must.
  2. Neither you, nor your spouse, wants to step foot inside a courtroom. Many people prefer to resolve their dispute in the privacy of a mediator’s conference room, instead of in open court.
  3. The lines of communication are still open between you and your spouse. This does not mean that you agree on everything (or anything); however, both parties are willing to sit down and discuss their positions.
  4. Each party is familiar with the income and finances of the other, and each party is willing to disclose information fairly and efficiently.
  5. You and your spouse are motivated to reach an amicable resolution with the help of the divorce mediator.

As you can see, there are both benefits and drawbacks associated with hiring a divorce attorney or engaging a divorce mediator. Neither process is perfect. Therefore, the selection of a professional that you intend to use in your divorce is an extremely important decision that requires taking a look at your individual situation to determine what is right for you.

By Karen G. Salib, Esq.

Mothers hand holding kids hand.

Custody Mediation Leads to Better Parenting Plans

As a parent, you are faced with a number of concerns and questions relating to your children the moment you decide to end the relationship with your partner or spouse. When will each parent have custody of the children? Will they remain in the same school? Where will the children spend their holidays and vacations?

In order to appreciate the benefits of mediating your custody case, it is helpful to understand what happens when parents cannot agree on a resolution, such that the custody matter is litigated through the court system.

The litigation process begins with the filing of a Custody Complaint, which prompts the court to schedule a Master’s Hearing. This is an informal, preliminary hearing that is often listed four to six weeks from the filing date. In many cases, each parent hires his or her own attorney, resulting in two separate, costly retainer payments. At this point, “battle lines” are drawn. If the parties do not reach an agreement at the Master’s Hearing, the case is then listed for a formal hearing before a Judge. This further delays the resolution of your case, as the matter will again be scheduled a number of weeks, if not months, in the future. In addition, each parent will continue to spend more money on attorney’s fees, as the custody hearing will involve extensive preparation. Depending on the complexity of your case, you may be required to call witnesses or experts to testify on your behalf, and the hearing could take place over several days. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge will consider the evidence presented and issue a custody order. In most cases, neither parent is happy with the result and the parties wind up back in court, necessitating a whole new round of delays and fees.

The mediation process, in contrast, begins with an agreement by the parents to cooperate and commit to developing a mutually agreeable parenting plan, with the best interests of the children in mind. With SnapDivorce Mediation, the parties pay one affordable, fixed fee, which will be disclosed upfront, before the process even begins. The fee covers all mediation sessions and the drafting of a detailed parenting plan that will become the court-approved custody order. Each mediation session is conducted by an experienced attorney-mediator, and is structured to facilitate an efficient resolution that best addresses the specific needs of each case. The mediation process allows for parents to craft creative, custom-made parenting plans, which is often unavailable to parents who litigate their dispute in court. In fact, custody mediation studies reveal that mediation leads to more detailed parenting plans and higher rates of compliance, as both parents are fully invested and involved in drafting the plan. At the conclusion of the mediation process, the parents have successfully resolved their custody dispute with the creation of a comprehensive parenting plan. They have avoided a costly and lengthy court battle. They have saved time, money, and their own sanity.

To lean more, contact SnapDivorce to schedule a free consultation.

Article by Karen Salib, Esq.  Ms. Salib is a senior associate with Cooley & Handy and a Mediator – Arbitrator with SnapDivorce, LLC.  Ms. Salib is experienced in all areas of divorce and child custody mediation, arbitration and litigation.