Common Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation:
1. DIVORCE IS TOO COMPLICATED TO MEDIATE
Mediation is as full-service as you want it to be. It can be used to resolve specific points in the negotiation, or it can be used to negotiate the entire settlement agreement from beginning through filing the papers in court. In more complex cases, Dr. Winder brings in outside experts to the process for things like valuations, tax questions, and other specialized areas. Everything that a litigated divorce can do, a mediated divorce can do better.
2. I’LL GET A BETTER DEAL IF I HIRE A LAWYER/GO TO COURT
You might. You also might not. One thing that is for certain though is that it will be much longer, more difficult, more expensive, and stressful. Mediation is all about finding a balance that works for both parties, and leaves everyone feeling good about the resulting agreement. And there’s no obligation or commitment – if at any point you feel it’s not working out, you can always go another route.
3. IF I MEDIATE I LOSE THE ABILITY TO HAVE A LAWYER PROTECT ME
As part of mediation Dr. Winder encourages each spouse to retain their own attorney to review the agreement. However, this is done is a collaborative manner, as opposed to hiring a lawyer to fight against your spouse. This allows each person to be protected while not allowing the process to degenerate into angry and unnecessary fighting.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
If you are seeking to get divorced in a peaceful, effective, cost-efficient way that is best for the mental health of you and your kids, that saves you tons of time and years of frustration that you’d spend in court, as well as save on exorbitant lawyer fees, divorce mediation is your one stop shop for all-things divorce.
The mediation approach is far superior to hiring lawyers to fight. Dr. Winder is a divorce mediator as well as a clinical psychologist, who helps couples to solve their disagreements through an amicable, thoughtful process. The combination of Dr. Winder’s expertise, and mediation services more generally, may be more important than you think. Here’s why:
1. People tend to go with what they know–– lawyers primarily know conflict.
People tend to do what they are trained to do and what they are most used to doing. Lawyers work within a system which includes discussing steps they could take on your behalf to file motions in court, engage in “legal maneuvering” to put you in the “best position to win”, and generally do things that are of a legal and contentions nature. This process will generally lead you toward a path that is likely to end in a contentious situation rather than a collaborative one.
2. Divorce mediation is exponentially more cost efficient.
A successful mediation is typically low cost, generally not exceeding $2,000, even in a fairly complicated case. On the other hand, lawyers may easily charge hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then some, on top of years of legal headaches. When using lawyers, each side must also have his/her own lawyer; with mediation there’s only one person who works with both, making the cost well under half the fee. Simply put, the cost of mediation is a fraction of the cost of lawyers, as well as years of life saved from ongoing court and legal experiences.
3. A peaceful process helps to mitigate cognitive dissonance.
Solving problems through an amicable process is of critical importance to reaching a practical, equitable solution. Cognitive dissonance means that we are uncomfortable when our thoughts and actions contradict. So, if we are doing something that we do not believe in, we tend to change our beliefs to match our behaviors (pretty amazing when you think about it since it’s completely irrational, but that’s for a different time).
So if a person working with an attorney were at some point to recognize that there is value to a peaceful resolution of a contentious situation, they will likely create a dissonance and justify their actions (e.g., “If I believe that there is a different, better way to doing this process [mediation], then why am I doing it the other way with a lawyer?”). Ironically, this will often cause the person, as a human with typical cognitive dissonance tendencies, to assume that the lawyer route is “right”, despite the increased tension it may have caused in the divorce process. It is best to start with a peaceful process, and continue with a peaceful process, rather than take and continue on a route that will likely lead to increased resentment.
4. Mediation protects the mental health of divorcing families.
This is extremely valuable, especially at such a vulnerable time for a couple and family. Fortunately, in recent years the use of mediation has steadily risen. The reason this is so fortunate is because mediation is specifically focused on reducing the highly negative factors that can be inherent in the divorce process. This contention can severely affect the mental health of all those involved in the divorce process, including the couple themselves, as well as any children they have. Keeping the divorce process thoughtful and discussion-focused helps those involved to reach agreed-upon results, limiting increased anxiety and anger.
In particular, when a couple has children, the main goal of a “successful” divorce process is to leave the couple in a state where they do not feel hate for each other, are able to communicate successfully going forward, and are both active and effective parents to their children. Their goal should also be for the children to be emotionally healthy, feel comfortable in their relationships with each parent, truly feel that both parents love and care for them, and believe that all decisions that are being made are focused on their best interests in mind. Having a trained mediator who is also a trained mental health professional can maximize the chances of this being the result of the mediation, and thereby maximize the chances of a positive outcome in a difficult process.
To read more about why it’s important to see a divorce mediator before a lawyer, and why your divorce mediator should also be a mental health professional, please see Dr. Winders blogs here (3 REASONS WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO SEE A DIVORCE MEDIATOR FIRST) and here (SHOULD YOUR DIVORCE MEDIATOR ALSO BE A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL?).