People often approach divorce proceedings thinking they have a choice between agreeing on everything and filing for an uncontested divorce, or having to battle out any disagreements in the courtroom. Many states, including Missouri, promote divorce mediation as an alternative way to resolve disputes without engaging in financially and emotionally draining litigation.
A divorce mediator acts as a neutral third party to facilitate discussion and compromise concerning contentious issues. Even couples who have trouble communicating can benefit from mediation. Working with a mediator can allow the couple to deescalate emotional tension and stay focused on productive discussion.
Potential benefits as compared to litigation
One important benefit of mediation is the flexibility it provides. Litigation happens on a series of strict deadlines and involves a lot of formal paperwork and check-in appearances. Mediation meetings focus on substance rather than formality. Not only can you arrange meetings based on your schedule, but you can also expect real developments. Mediators also have the latitude to suggest out-of-the-box solutions that could work better for you than a by-the-book approach.
Some types of mediation in Missouri may be available to you for free or on a sliding scale. Parents with custody or visitation disputes can resort to specialized mediation services designed to deal specifically with these issues and promote compromise with the children's best interests in mind.
Your lawyer can help you get the most out of mediation
You can and should attend mediation sessions with your attorney. The mediator can initiate and guide discussion while making suggestions, but he or she cannot provide either party with legal advice. You will need to consult your attorney to understand whether a proposed solution will be in your best interest and what potential consequences could be.
Limits of mediation
Mediators lack the power to legally force any party to do anything. For this reason, if you suspect your soon-to-be-ex of dishonesty, the mediator cannot compel him or her to produce evidence or tell the truth about assets.
When you arrive at the brink of divorce, you need an experienced, steadfast attorney at your side to fight for you and to ensure you get a full understanding of everything that happens. Whichever route you anticipate taking to attaining your divorce judgment, retaining a qualified lawyer is essential to protecting your rights.