This article was originally published on Mediate.com
Going through a divorce can be a costly endeavor, but there are some situations that might allow you to choose a less expensive route. When you consider all of the professionals you might need to hire, the costs really add up.
Mediation may serve as a cheaper, faster route for having your divorce finalized, so you can begin moving on with your new life. Mediation occurs when you hire a neutral third party (usually a retired family-law judge) to help you resolve the issues in your divorce.
Not sure if mediation is right for you? Here are 5 ways to figure out if you may want to use it:
1) You have no history of abuse in your marriage.
If any type of abuse exists (whether it’s physical intimidation, emotional manipulation, or verbal abuse), mediation is not going to be a healthy resolution to your marriage. It will be difficult to discuss post-divorce arrangements if there is fear of future abuse or concern about criminal activity. This complication will hinder the clear communication necessary to reach an agreement.
2) You are able to confidently stand up for yourself.
While you can hire an attorney to assist you with your mediation, the most cost-effective solution would be to just hire a specialized mediator. Without an attorney to help you speak up for your best interests, you must be certain that you’re clear-minded and confident enough to boldly speak up about what you feel you’re entitled to. If you’re shy or uncertain, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist you in dividing up your marital assets.
3) You and your spouse can be understanding of each other’s positions.
When spouses can clearly communicate their future needs and be heard, mediation can move along much faster. If there is a communication issue between the two of you (or you cannot be understanding about the other person’s needs), mediation can drag on forever without reaching a conclusion. In these kinds of situations, it’d be better to avoid mediation altogether.
4) You’re not worried about your spouse hiding assets.
There are a plethora of professionals you can hire to help you uncover potentially hidden assets and review your financial records. If you’re confident that your spouse has disclosed all of his or her assets, you can make your mediation a little less expensive.
Avoid hiring a forensic accountant or a similar professional to review your past financial records. Keep in mind that this cost-cutter will require a little bit more work on your part. You’ll have to sift through old records and complete a lifestyle analysis for both you and your spouse, but it’ll save you money in the end.
5) You think mediation can be successful.
As previously mentioned, it’s possible to go through mediation without achieving a clear plan or resolution. If you and your spouse have struggled to work through things that require this level of communication and cooperation, you might have to evaluate whether you feel that this method will be successful. Marriages that have a history of good conflict resolution may really benefit from this cost-effective way of managing their divorce finalization.
Mediation can be a more pleasant, inexpensive way to finalize the last details of your marriage and divvy up your assets. However, it may not be the best option for you. To determine if you should pursue this route, you’ll need to seriously evaluate your own character traits, your past history with your spouse, and the amount of assets that need to be divided between the two of you.
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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is author of Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide and host of the Divorce and Your Money Show on iTunes. Learn more at www.divorceandyourmoney.com.