Many divorcing spouses in Virginia want to avoid an extensive trial at all costs. This logic makes sense. After all, why waste time, effort, and money on a divorce trial when you can resolve all of your disputes on your own? Not only can you save time and money, but you can also exert a greater degree of control over your divorce when you handle matters between yourselves with the right team of experts.
With all that being said, handling matters by yourself is not always an easy process, especially when you are dealing with the complex legal details of a divorce in Virginia. Even though this method might be easier than a normal trial process, it still comes with its own fair share of challenges. This is why it is always a good idea to work with a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Virginia as you attempt to get all the details ironed out.
In the legal world, this overall process is often referred to as “mediation.” Although mediation is similar to a normal negotiation, there are a number of important details that make this process unique. If you are considering mediation, you should understand these key details so that you can move forward with confidence alongside your divorce attorney.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is the process in which both spouses attempt to come to a mutual agreement on matters related to their divorce. This process involves a professional, neutral third party or a retired judge called a mediator, and it occurs outside of court. Both spouses may also bring their attorneys to the negotiation table. While these attorneys represent the best interests of their respective clients, the mediator seeks to achieve the best possible result for both parties.
A mediator does not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of both spouses. Their job is to facilitate discussions and a mutual understanding between the parties. The goal is to create a situation in which both spouses can agree upon potentially contentious issues. Depending on each situation, this can be a difficult process. However, it offers a number of important advantages compared to litigation:
- It is less expensive than going through a divorce trial and attending numerous hearings.
- You have more control over how issues are settled. In contrast, decision-making authority may be delegated to a judge during a divorce trial after a limited amount of evidence is presented to demonstrate your positions.
- Mediations can be kept confidential, whereas divorce trials are open to the public .
- You can still refer to your lawyer for legal advice, giving you the best of both worlds.
- A well-handled mediation process can lay the foundation for future cooperation between both spouses. In contrast, a trial can often leave spouses feeling bitter and unsatisfied with the final decision.
Mediation vs. Negotiation
A typical negotiation is similar to mediation, but with one major difference — there is no neutral third party involved in the process. Without the mediator, you are simply meeting with your spouse and their lawyer in an attempt to come to an agreement. Since both parties are only looking out for their best interests, these negotiations can often hit roadblocks after it becomes clear that neither party is willing to negotiate.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Mediation?
It is technically possible to go through the mediation process without the assistance of your attorney. You will still need to hire a lawyer to help draft and review your separation agreement, but they do not actually need to be present during the mediation. However, you may want your lawyer to be at your side anyway. These walking encyclopedias of legal knowledge can be helpful assets if you have questions about certain laws during your mediation. If your spouse chooses to bring their own lawyer to the mediation, you should do the same.
What Does the Mediation Process Look Like?
The mediation process often begins a meeting together in a conference room or a similar location. In some situations, the mediator will want to speak with each spouse privately to hear their side of the story. You may also be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, which ensures that certain details do not leave the room. The general process involves multiple meetings during which both parties discuss the divorce as the mediator tries to help them achieve their goals and priorities. Skilled mediators attempt to put both parties at ease by creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere where everyone is free to speak their mind.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you are considering mediation, you probably need assistance from a divorce attorney in Virginia. Nova Legal Professionals have helped many spouses in the past with the mediation process. Reach out today, and we can help you navigate your divorce while steering you clear of any potential issues. Book your consultation and learn how to begin the mediation process the right way.
If you want to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your case, reach out to us at any of our offices in Manassas, Prince William County, Fairfax, Fairfax County, or Stafford/Fredericksburg, locations to schedule.