The Mediated Divorce
Doug and Linda had an elementary school-age child who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The couple came to me with questions about mediated divorce as they sought to avoid the expensive and time consuming process of litigation. More importantly, they wanted to remain cordial and able to cooperate for the sake of their daughter. I met with Doug and Linda in my office and we resolved their issues in just three sessions, saving them valuable time and money. It was a completely confidential process and both were able to discuss and resolve the issues that were important to them and to their daughter.
During the first session we discussed all issues in connection with parenting, including, but not limited to parenting schedules, decision-making, child support, educational and health expenses. This was the easiest part of the process for Doug and Linda as their daughter’s well-being was clearly their top priority. I always stress that decisions should be made with the best interests of the child in mind and Doug and Linda were already on the same page.
We moved on to a discussion of the equitable distribution of their marital property at our second session. We focused on the jointly owned house, vacation home, personal property and cars. We also reviewed the couple’s bank accounts and debts. I was able to help Doug and Linda come to a mutually agreeable division of these assets where certain trade-offs were made so that each party’s priorities were respected while the end result was fair and beneficial to the family as a whole.
At the third and final session we resolved the remaining issues of spousal maintenance and the division of a 401k and other retirement plans. The parties ultimately determined that Linda would receive monthly maintenance payments due to the fact that Doug’s income was significantly higher than Linda’s. The 401k and retirement plans were equally divided from the date of marriage until the date on which the agreement was signed. Both parties felt this was a practical and fair arrangement in light of their assets, income and needs.
Rather than engaging in the litigation process and spending tens of thousands of dollars, Doug and Linda were able to go through the mediation process cooperatively, resolving their issues on their own terms, while I was there to moderate the conversation and provide legal information when relevant or requested. The couple’s shared motivation to engage in the mediation process helped them reach a resolution in a very short period of time.