- The economy is still recovering;
- People always like to save money;
- Divorce cases have a reputation for taking way too much time and costing way too much money;
Clients are attempting to decide and write the terms of their agreement, thinking that this will help lower the cost and take less time.
Although they have never done this before, they come into a mediation session with their spreadsheets and a financial plan that they have already worked out. When I see the results of their efforts, I think “Oh, no! My clients have turned into Jailhouse Lawyers.”
Without the legal writing experience and expertise in family law, couples will write out a proposal that mixes child support with equitable distribution with alimony with child related expenses, when all of these items should be separate. To a family law professional, It’s kind of like they put everything together in a paper bag, shook it up and spilled it out. It usually takes more time to unpack what it is they’ve done, than it would have taken to start from scratch.
In a typical mediation, we ask “What do you want to do? Okay, now let’s explore how we can get there.” The process flows very nicely from assets to a parenting plan to retirement plans. It’s done in a logical order that follows the flow of the Settlement Agreement. It often moves quickly.and helps add to the momentum of cooperation and self determination by the couple.
Here’s Don’s Advice for a Successful Mediation:
- Bring in all your financials and relevant information.
- Don’t try to create an agreement on your own.
- Have an idea of the things that are most important to you.
You don’t have to take a crash course in family law and turn into Johnny Cochran. Let your mediator do the heavy lifting, which is what you are paying them to do. They will ask the right questions and put things in the proper order. Ultimately, doing it this way will save time and money.
Trust me! I do this every day, and it really works!