MYTHS ABOUT MEDIATION AND COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
MYTH: If my spouse and I have difficulty talking to each other, it won’t work.
REALITY: Some couples mistakenly believe that mediation or collaborative divorce won't work for them because the emotional discord between them negatively impacts their ability to communicate effectively. We recognize that many couples are unable to communicate on their own. Both of these options – mediation and collaborative divorce - provide the opportunity to successfully resolve family issues in new ways that the couple has not done before. By guiding and facilitating dialogue, gathering information and clarifying issues, our mediation/collaborative team guides the couple throughout the entire process, allowing the couple to determine their own best interests after becoming informed about all the available options.
MYTH: If I go to court and the judge hears my story, I'll get a better result.
REALITY: It's natural for each person to feel that he or she has been wronged and that a judge will "make it right." Some people believe that a trial will allow them "to be heard" and that a judge's final orders will be fair and complete. However, judges are only human. It is unrealistic to expect that a judge who is not familiar with your family will be able to dispense perfect justice in a detailed manner that meets your family's needs. The court system is often not the best venue to resolve personal disputes. Many people are dismayed upon learning of the judge's decision because they feel that the orders fall short of addressing the real needs of the parties and their children. Even under the best of circumstances, when litigation results are found to be reasonable by both parties, they have paid a heavy price, both financially and emotionally.
In reality, most litigants do not experience the "fairness" that you expect. If one party feels victorious, the other party inevitably feels humiliated and beaten. Deciding to resolve your divorce through litigation is a gamble. You and your attorney have no way to predict the results. If your attorney is willing to guarantee specific results, insist on nothing less than a written guarantee prior to embarking on the course of litigation.
MYTH: If I use a divorce mediator, I won't be able to use a divorce lawyer.
REALITY: As part of the mediation process, we require couples to meet separately with their respective attorneys at least once to review their agreement before it becomes a final court order. We encourage the couple to consult with their attorneys at any time during the mediation process whenever they feel a need to do so. We believe that informed parties make better agreements, and those agreements ultimately endure the test of time, minimizing the likelihood of future disputes.
MYTH: If I don’t go to court, my spouse will "get away with" not disclosing financial information to which I am entitled.
REALITY: In both mediation and collaborative divorce, prior to beginning the process, the parties sign an agreement under which they are bound to provide full disclosure of all assets, debts, income and expenses and at some point during the process each party provides the other with copies of all relevant financial documents.
In addition, for both mediation and the collaborative processes, prior to finalizing your divorce agreement, each party must provide a sworn financial affidavit of his and her income, assets and liabilities. This document - the financial affidavit - is a key document and one that must be filed with the court when your divorce is finalized, regardless of how your divorce is achieved – through mediation, collaborative divorce, or a litigated divorce.
In some cases, complete financial disclosure may require assistance from outside experts who are chosen by the parties, such as accountants, appraisers, and actuaries. For example, some assets, such as real estate or business interests, may require an appraisal by a certified appraiser chosen by the parties. A certified public accountant's services may also be needed to obtain information about the parties' assets and the tax consequences for each party of the proposed asset distribution and spousal and child support. These experts will be retained only with your approval.