If you and your spouse are interested in resolving your divorce issues through mediation, but one or both of you believes that the complexity of your financial situation makes mediation an unlikely fit, you may want to rethink the possibility. While it is true that mediating a complicated case could be a lengthier and more detailed process than mediating a simple case, it is also true that litigating a complicated case generally takes more time and more attention to detail than litigating a simple case. This means that your costs are apt to be higher than normal if you go to court, but your savings from choosing mediation could also be greater than the average savings.
There are many reasons costs tend to skyrocket in complex litigation. Not only do the attorneys need to spend more time reviewing evidence, preparing paperwork, and appearing in court, but the case is apt to require reports and testimony from expert witnesses, who typically charge very high fees. In complex divorce litigation, each spouse often hires one or more independent financial experts. For example, you may find that you need the opinion of an actuary to properly value a pension, a real estate appraiser to provide an accurate current market for your home, a business evaluator to assess various financial aspects of a family or closely held business, or a vocational expert to assess the employability and earning capacity of you or your spouse. These are just a few of the more common examples.
An unfortunate result that can occur when each spouse hires multiple experts to assess various financial aspects of a case is that a large percentage of the net worth of the divorcing couple is dissipated in the very exercise of trying to put an appropriate value on that net worth! Mediation provides some useful tools that can help you find a way out of this kind of Catch-22 situation. If both you and your spouse are willing and able to be completely open and forthcoming with all financial details of your case, you may be able to hire joint experts and agree to follow their recommendations. Your experts do not necessarily need to provide reports that involve the same level of detail that would be required in a court procedure. Engaging in an informal exchange of information rather than formal discovery can be an additional cost savings measure.
One important caveat to keep in mind as you consider this option is that honesty and openness on both sides will be critical to the success of the venture. In addition, even if both sides trust each other to provide complete and accurate information, it can be more important to consult closely with attorneys as you move through the process of resolving various issues. While your mediator can provide you with information about the law, only your own attorney can give you advice that will ensure that you do not give up important rights on your way to settling your case. If you and your spouse find that you are very far apart in your ideas about what a fair resolution would be for one or more of your issues, you can always choose to take that issue to court. In some cases even resolving one or two complicated issues out of court can result in a significant financial and time savings.
So don’t jump to conclusions about whether or not your case is or isn’t appropriate for mediation. Contact a mediator for more information! For an initial consultation, use our divorce mediation contact form or call (888) 888 1383