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Posted on in Divorce

Should You Try to ‘Win’ Your Divorce?It is healthy to approach your divorce with clear goals in mind and the motivation to accomplish them. You need a divorce agreement that allows you to financially support yourself and have ample parenting time with your children. However, being overly competitive with your spouse can cause problems. Trying to “win” your divorce may create contentious negotiations that prevent you from achieving an optimal divorce agreement – as well as make the process take longer than it needed to. Instead, an amicable or collaborative divorce process, such as mediation, often results in better agreements that both sides can be satisfied with.

Problems with ‘Winning’

Divorce is not meant to have “winners” and “losers.” Divorce law recognizes that both parties need to benefit from the agreement, and a divorce court will not approve an agreement that flagrantly benefits one side at the expense of the other. There are several problems with believing that you need to win your divorce:

  • You may set unrealistic goals that your spouse will not agree to and a court would reject.
  • You may reject a reasonable offer from your spouse that would benefit you.
  • Your focus may shift towards wanting your spouse to lose, even if you are hurting yourself in the process.
  • You are more likely to be dissatisfied with your final agreement, even if it is objectively a good agreement.

There are unavoidable “losses” for everyone who gets divorced. You will lose a portion of your marital properties. You will lose the ability to pool your income with your spouse’s income to pay for living expenses. You will lose some of the time that you normally get to spend with your children. It is part of the cost of divorce.

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Five Common Questions About Divorce MediationMany spouses are turning to divorce mediation as an alternative to the lengthy and costly process of divorce litigation. Mediation involves the two spouses directly negotiating the terms of their divorce, with an impartial mediator guiding them through the process. By working together, the spouses can reach a mutually beneficial agreement without the vitriol that can come with litigation. You may be considering mediation for your divorce but are unsure whether the process is right for you. Here are the answers to common questions about divorce mediation:

  1. Is Mediation Only for Amicable Divorces?: Mediation works best when both spouses can cooperate with each other, but it can still work even if you and your spouse have a contentious relationship. Part of the mediation process is teaching you how to reach an agreement in spite of your differences. The mediator is there to help defuse unproductive arguments. The most important requirement for mediation is your willingness to communicate and behave reasonably.
  2. Is a Mediator the Same Thing as a Divorce Lawyer?: Many mediators are practicing family law attorneys, but their role as a mediator is different than that of an attorney. An attorney represents one side in a case, while a mediator is a third-party observer and advisor to the mediation process. Many spouses share the cost of hiring a mediator, while individually hiring their own attorneys who they can consult with outside of the mediation.
  3. Do I Still Need to Appear in Court?: If your mediation goes well, you will have two court appearances: filing for a dissolution of marriage at the start of the process and submitting your divorce agreement for approval at the end of the process. The court must review your agreement to confirm that it adheres to the state’s divorce laws and is not blatantly unfair to one party.
  4. What Happens If Mediation Fails?: The mediation process will end if you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse on part of your divorce settlement. Your case will likely move directly to litigation afterward. However, the mediation process may not have been a waste if you were able to agree on some parts of your divorce settlement.
  5. Is Mediation Faster and Cheaper than Litigation?: If successful, mediation could be a faster and less expensive process for you. You are saving time by having more-efficient negotiations and avoiding numerous court appearances. Saving time will also save you money on court fees and legal expenses. However, failed mediation could be slower and more costly because you will have used both mediation and litigation.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Mediator

When hiring a divorce mediator, you need to find someone with knowledge of divorce law and training in the mediation process. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce mediator at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can explain the mediation process to you. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Dispelling Myths About Divorce MediationDivorce mediation can be more productive and cost-effective than litigation for some couples. In mediation, the spouses directly negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement, with a mediator serving as a neutral guide. The process can be less expensive than litigation because the spouses minimize their time in court and share the expense of the mediator. Spouses are also more likely to be mutually satisfied with the resulting agreement. Mediation does not work for every divorce, and a failed attempt may be costly if the couple has to use divorce litigation. However, you should not reject mediation because you have misconceptions about the process. Here are four facts that dispel common myths about divorce mediation:

  1. Mediation Does Not Require an Amicable Divorce: Mediation relies on the divorcing couple being able to communicate in a constructive manner in order to reach an agreement. It is the mediator’s role to facilitate the discussions and intervene when communications breakdown. The mediator can steer the conversation away from counterproductive subjects, pause negotiations when tensions escalate and bring in a therapist to help teach constructive communication skills.
  2. Mediation Is Not Like Marriage Counseling: Though a mediator will encourage improved communications between the parties, reconciling a marriage is not his or her goal. The purpose of divorce negotiations is to settle the division of property and parental responsibilities. A divorce mediator is someone who has experience with the legal process of divorce, not a relationship counselor.
  3. The Mediator Will Not Control the Negotiations: Spouses lead the negotiation during the divorce mediation and will decide the terms of the agreement. The mediator is a neutral resource who understands the legal requirements for creating a divorce agreement. The mediator can inform both sides of the state’s divorce laws and how they may apply to the issue being discussed.
  4. Both Parties Can Have Attorneys During Mediation: Divorce attorneys will not accompany spouses into the mediation negotiations. That is a different form of alternative dispute resolution called collaborative law. However, both parties in a mediation are encouraged to have their own attorneys on standby. The mediator cannot give advice that would favor one side, but each side can contact his or her own attorney for guidance as needed. It is also advisable that both sides allow their own attorneys to review the divorce agreement that comes out of mediation.

Making a Decision

You can settle any divorce issue through mediation, but the process may not work for some people. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can advise you on the benefits of mediation or litigation for your case. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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