Mediation vs. Court
At Good Family Matters, we recognize how destructive the family law system can be to a family. When a family law matter (i.e. access, custody, divorce) goes the litigation route, the cost can be measured in tens of thousands of dollars and if it goes all the way to trial, legal fees can exceed $100,000.00. Court is also very time consuming and right now in many communities, it takes more than six months just to get the initial case conference and a trial is most likely two years away. This is so destructive to the lives of both people and it is also very harmful to the children.
Here are some of the most significant benefits of mediation over court:
- Time – A mediated agreement can often be completed in a month or two from introduction to signed agreement.
- Flexibility – A mediated agreement is often much more flexible than a court ordered arrangement. In many cases, these benefits assist both parties.
- Satisfaction – Both sides of a mediated agreement are usually more satisfied with the agreement and as a result the agreement tends to hold up over time. If a later issue arises between the parties, they are usually more likely to use a cooperative approach to solve the problem.
- Comprehensive Agreements – Mediated agreements of family matters can be far more comprehensive and customized as they can include procedural and psychological issues that are frequently not covered in a court ordered agreement.
- Privacy – All court matters are considered public and will be documented and archived. This means, when your children grow up they can look back and see what the issues were between their parents and in most cases, does not reflect well on either parent. In mediation, all discussions are in confidence and there is no public record.
- Financial Considerations in Exchange for Custody/Access Flexibility – In most cases, the courts separate custody/access issues from support considerations. Many see this as a moral issue but it happens frequently in settlement agreements.
- Income Determination – With an agreed upon income determining formula, the parties fast track the process and save the legal and accounting costs.
- Support Review/Adjustment – It can be very costly and time consuming to get a court to order or allow a support review, especially in circumstances where someone’s income is frequently changing. In mediation, you can implement an automatic support adjustment formula.
- Release from Spousal Support – Even if the courts don’t initially order spousal support, a party can make a claim for spousal support in the future. Through mediation, a spousal support release can be negotiated preventing either party from ever making such a claim in the future.
- Dispute Resolution – To avoid ending up in a courtroom down the road, you can negotiate a predetermined resolution process for future disputes. Commonly, these include additional mediation/arbitration.
- Creative Taxing – Often gaps in the negotiation can be overcome by the parties agreeing to structure their financial affairs in a manner that carries taxable benefits for both sides of the dispute.
There are other strategies that can be used to help accomplish an agreement that are not really tools the courts are able to use. Some of these include:
- Swapping or sharing of assets
- Assuming the other party’s debts
- Paying support to a third party
- Credit Protection
It’s important to understand that everyone has different circumstances and the mediation process allows you to be more flexible in working towards a solution. At Good Family Matters, we focus on your family’s unique and personal situation to ensure you get an agreement that works for all of you.