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Breaking through the myths about mediation

When making the important and often difficult decision to divorce, many people feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions that have to be made. Chief among these decisions is whether the process will be best served by litigation or mediation. While litigation is the traditional route, mediation is a way to greatly reduce the costs associated with divorce and attain a settlement that fits within the needs of the family.

Through litigation, costs may reach upwards of $30,000 while mediation could see a price tag of $3,000 to $5,000. With so many pros to choosing mediation, it is a wonder most people don't choose this route. It is most likely due to the fact that there are many myths about this process. One myth is that the mediator takes the place of legal consultation. Another myth is that a spouse must 'served' with divorce papers, which can be highly embarrassing and is far from necessary. Many people also believe that all issues need to be resolved during mediation. The truth is that settlements can address many issues and leave some to be decided at a later date.

Also, despite popular belief, you do not have to be in the same room as your spouse as most mediations can be conducted separately. Another myth is that you won't be able to consult with a team of experts and will have to make decisions alone. In truth, the mediator is just part of an available team that may help you through this process. And lastly, some people believe they will only receive legal advice from a mediator and not a lawyer. This is false because mediators do not issue legal advice. In most cases, they will encourage you to seek true legal counsel.

It is important to consider consulting with a divorce attorney whether or not you have chosen to use mediation. An experienced divorce attorney may be able to help you decide which issues to mediate and whether or not litigation may be required.

Source: Huffington Post Divorce, "Mediation Myths and Misunderstandings That May Affect Your Decisions in Divorce", Diane L. Danois, May 10, 2013