Kathy Macchione Leggett, LMHC • (863) 207-4402  Kathy@mccmediation.com

Mediation & Counseling Consultants

Reduce the time, stress and cost of divorce.

Pro Se Divorce Mediation

 

Divorce is not something that anyone plans on experiencing.  It isn't unusual to feel like there is nowhere to turn for help.

It is part of the human psyche that we tend to
avoid confronting matters that cause us pain or discomfort
.

All too often when people find themselves in a divorce, their emotions begin dictate their decisions and they typically begin to make unwise choices about their financial future and the future of their children.

In Florida, couples can obtain a divorce without retaining attorneys.  Divorce Mediation is the best alternative if you and your spouse are willing to work together to minimize your losses both financially and emotionally.  We refer to this type of alternative dispute resolution as "PRO SE" Divorce Mediation.

LITIGATION: The Adversarial Process

Divorces are part of our adversary process. By design, the legal system pits one party against the other. The theory is that as a 'good' attorney, you must have the most persuasive argument and then attack by cross-examination to reveal the weakness of the side's position. Though this may be an effective way to make decisions in civil or criminal cases, we believe it certainly is not an appropriate resolution for a family in crisis. Litigation typically creates oppositions of husband against wife, mother against father, resulting in severely damaged relationships.

 Divorce attorneys are, first and foremost, advocates. They are, by training and duty to their clients, hired to "win" the case, to "defeat the other side." The tactics that are used to obtain those results can be expensive and destructive.

Divorce attorneys clearly understand that divorce is as much a psychological war, as it is a legal war. They collect information by taking depositions (examinations before trial) of friends, family and business associates, requesting production of tons of documents, scrutinizing personal activities, and evaluation and criticism of each spouse's role as parent.  This data gives attorneys the tools with which to attack the opponent and to gain psychological, as well as legal advantage.

All of that warfare is expensive. Attorney fees vary and may often exceed $350-$500 per hour.  Keep in mind that the fees and costs are for each spouse. When you add the out of pocket costs, filing fees, witness subpoenas, court reporter fees and transcripts fees the cost of the war often exceeds the amount in controversy and wastes hard earned marital assets that can better be used for you and the children.

COURT ORDER:  The Gamble

Not even the best trial attorney can safely predict the decision of a judge. In fact, in most divorce cases, both clients leave the process unhappy with the result. When you allow the case to go to court, you give up the right to make decisions about your own life. Before putting decisions about your life into someone else's hands you need to explore alternative methods of reaching an agreement and moving on with your life. Mediators can help you to avoid the risk.

EMOTIONAL COST:  Your Children Are Watching

Contrary to public perception, divorce attorneys practice in and are subject to a stressful, emotional environment, and sometimes become immune to the emotional cost of the children involved in their client's dispute.  They become a bystander and innocent victim of their parents' battle.  However, if you think that the fault lies solely with the attorneys you are missing the point. You, the client, make it all possible. Clients, out of their own emotional pain, often urge their attorneys to savage their spouse. It is a way to make them "pay for what they have done." When that is your objective the price that you pay goes far beyond dollars. It results in the loss of dignity and self-respect.

 Most importantly be aware that your children are watching. As hostility increases they become the innocent victims.  When a parent is attacked, the child feels attacked.  "Mom, why are you so angry at Dad? Don't you know that I love him?" "Dad, why are you so angry at Mom? Don't you know that I love her?"   Confusion sets in and children often suffer from unnecessary guilt, with no answers, blaming themselves for your divorce.

YOUR ATTORNEY ALTERNATIVE:  Divorce Mediation

Mediation is a non-adversarial process in which you and your spouse, with the assistance of an impartial mediator, make decisions that affect you and your children's lives. The agreement you arrive at must be acceptable to both parties and the agreement then forms the basis for an uncontested divorce.  Mediation can take place during the divorce suit, before the trial of the case.  However, by that time, both parties will probably have paid attorney fees and started the case with hostility brewing.  Couples facing divorce are urged to consider getting the assistance of a family mediator before retaining opposing divorce attorneys.

The mediator is a neutral party who cannot order either of you to do anything. He or she will help to defuse emotions, and guide both of you through the web of difficult issues. Through extensive training and experience, a mediator can often suggest creative solutions to problems that the parties may have considered insoluble. They deal with every issue involved in the dissolution of a marriage:   Equitable distribution of property and debts, child custody, time-sharing, and support issues, spousal support, and assistance in virtually every subject necessary to lead to a complete agreement and uncontested divorce.

Instead of airing these personal and often painful subjects in a public arena (the courtroom), you deal with them in the privacy and confidential setting of the mediator's office.

The cost of Divorce Mediation is significantly less than battling it out with opposing divorce attorneys.

Most importantly, the process helps the parties avoid destructive battles, which impact upon children of the marriage. It enables you to get on with your life.

Remember, if you cannot reach agreement with a mediator, the divorce lawyer is always there to help you.

While Divorce Mediation is not marriage counseling, the question of saving the marriage is sometimes explored. Supervised communication between the spouses sometimes results in a desire to seek counseling to save the marriage. However, the primary objective of Divorce Mediation is to assist parties who have decided upon divorce get through the process in a less confrontational setting.