You and your spouse have recently decided to pursue a divorce in South Carolina. Whether this comes as a shock, relief, or something in between, you still have a lot of work ahead of you. Some of the decisions you need to make now include who will remain in the family home, how to split assets and liabilities, child custody and support if you have children, and numerous others. Unfortunately, fighting about these matters only prolongs the divorce process and runs up legal fees for both of you. Could divorce mediation be a better option for your family?
What is Mediation and How Does It Differ from Arbitration?
Perhaps you have heard both these terms before and feel confused about what they mean and whether the definitions overlap. That is common. Arbitration is a process where a person known as an arbitrator considers the legality of a dispute and determines a legally binding decision. The term legally binding means that you must abide by the decision whether you agree with it or not. Although similar to a court case, arbitration takes place outside of a courtroom and the public cannot attend. When it comes to family law and especially divorce, mediation tends to work much better.
During divorce mediation, a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution helps you and your spouse settle the terms of your divorce through discussion and compromise. The primary tasks of the mediator are to facilitate respectful discussion and arrive at mutually agreed-upon decisions. The whole point of mediation is not to determine a winner and loser but to help the divorcing couple reach the best decisions for their family.
Advantages and Potential Disadvantages to Consider with Divorce Mediation
One of the greatest benefits of the mediation process is that it can save you a lot of time and money. You pay a flat fee to the mediator rather than an hourly rate to your lawyer. Other reasons you may want to consider this option include:
- You and your spouse retain control of the session, not a judge.
- Mediation is confidential, which means no court reporter is present recording everything that either of you say. The mediator does not retain records from the session once the two of you decide how to handle specific issues moving forward.
- Mediators are objective who don’t push a specific outcome. They can help to diffuse emotionally charged topics and possibly suggest solutions because they are not personally invested in what you and your spouse decide.
Mediation may not be the best option for your situation if your spouse was abusive towards you or has a controlling personality. The behavior could continue into mediation and leave you feeling intimidated enough to go along with your spouse’s demands. You also lose the process of discovery that forces both spouses to provide documentation proving their individual income, debt, and assets. For mediation to be successful, you need to be able to trust that your spouse won’t try to hide anything from you during the process.
Contact the Law Office of Sara A. Turner for a Consultation
As an experienced family law attorney, Sara Turner is available to meet with you to learn more about your pending divorce and whether mediation is the right choice. Please contact us to reserve your time to meet for a no-obligation discussion about your situation and your options.