It is the New Year and you are weighing your options to file for a divorce. I suggest a less costly and time consuming alternative is to hire a mediator.
What is a mediator? It is a neutral person. They do not take sides and they are not there to be your marriage therapist. Their goal is to assist you by removing the drama and tension often associated with a long drawn out court battle. In fact, they are not even allowed to give you legal advice. The mediator begins, by meeting each party separately. You fill out questions and provide financial information. In addition, you list concerns over custody and parenting issues.
After the initial meeting, you will then meet with the mediator together and work out issues so that you can come up with an agreement that serves you both. That agreement is then submitted to the courts for final review usually by a judge. (States vary on this, so please check your local statues.)
The goal of mediation is to not place any blame in the marriage, but rather promote and plan for a healthy future for you, your spouse, and your children. You create the divorce agreement between the two of you with the assistance of the mediator not the courts.
Before you say, “I am not interested in doing that, I want to hire a lawyer,” you should seek consultation with a lawyer to understand your options. A lawyer can review the documents drawn up by a mediator and make changes and suggestions before it is submitted to the courts.
Have you ever sat in on a divorce trial? The answer most likely is no. Before you make that all important-life changing decision, why don’t you go your local courthouse to family court or domestic relations (whatever it may be called in your area) and sit through a morning or afternoon of court calls and/or hearings of others going through a divorce.
It is not a pretty site, especially if there is a lot of tension between the divorcing parties, the lawyers, and the judge. As you view the court process, try and picture yourself sitting there with your lawyer and your spouse sitting with their lawyer. Observe the fact that these two intelligent people have hired complete strangers to argue what can become “unimportant stuff” and a court reporter is taking down every word said for the court that will then become public record. Do you really want to participate in ending your marriage that way? Some of those people in court have been there for years or more and still are not divorced.