Jul 21, 2020
Some married couples apparently have grown weary of being in the same house with each other as a result of the COVID-19 confinement. As a result, divorce attorneys are bracing for an overwhelming number of filings.
But couples and attorneys might have to wait until the courts are back in session, as they do not yet offering virtual proceedings. However, for those who are not willing to wait, various mediation groups are offering videoconferencing services.
Mediation is the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. The voluntary, private process is for couples that are trying to achieve a successful resolution quicker, with less effort, expense and privacy.
A paid mediator – a neutral third party facilitator – can help lower the emotional temperature between two parties and work toward resolving the issues that might prevent them from reaching a favorable agreement. Mediators do not make decisions for couples, and because mediation is private, there is no public record of the issues.
Typically, there are six steps to a successful mediation:
1. Introduction - The mediator explains the issues, as he or she perceives them, and outlines the mediation process and meeting protocol.
2. Statement of the problem – Each spouse describes their issues and discusses their interests, understandings and feelings. Individually, they also provide each other with ideas for the resolution of the dispute.
3. Information gathering - Detailing the facts, evidence, and pertinent information to come to a conclusion, the mediator asks questions of the couple separately, to identify possible motives that explain an individual’s past behavior and why an individual might be seeking a particular result.
4. Identification of the problems - Through information received from briefs and previous dialogue, the mediator will discuss what is at the heart of the matter.
5. Bargaining and generating options – The bargaining process begins after all of the issues have been determined. This is sometimes considered to be the most creative of the steps because it often involves group processes, discussion groups and hypotheticals.
6. Reaching an agreement - One common usage is the “caucus.” The mediator will put a proposed settlement on the table and require the participants to amend the settlement until they come to a reasonable solution. Another common usage is when the mediator meets with each party privately to negotiate. Obviously, the meetings are confidential, providing a safe environment to brainstorm and discuss emotions and fears. (Source: Litigation.Laws.com)
Include a Certified Divorce Financial Planner in Mediation
Divorce is the legal outcome. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process and a means to the end that is less costly, quicker and more efficient than going to trial. To their credit, the best mediators are trained in mediation. They are fully neutral, know the issues and are experts in resolving complex financial matters surrounding the process.
Skilled mediators are not required to be lawyers. They cannot provide legal advice, nor can a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, also a trained mediator, who is proficient in resolving complex financial matters. They, too, take an active role in facilitative mediation and family counseling, which is why attorneys who handle large numbers of divorce cases hire them.
A CDFA® Interprets the Numbers
A CDFA® is client centric and able to condense the financial intricacies into easily understood language. A CDFA® assists couples in finding support for an outcome that must take both sides’ financial future into consideration. Having a financial planning background is a natural pre-requisite – some also have an accounting or legal background– and each advisor undergoes intensive training to become proficient in analyzing and providing expertise in mediation divorce cases.
A mediator, by nature, must strive to find a suitable agreement between the parties, and must know all the facts and all the numbers. The only two people who can resolve disputes are the parties themselves. Basically, mediation allows the couple to arrive at a resolution based on what they deem fair for themselves, rather than having the court decide.
A CDFA® is frequently called upon because the information they provide helps alleviate fears and misunderstandings that surround money issues. Having a CDFA® is a real benefit because there is no law requiring couples to involve attorneys, not even for the filing. A CDFA® usually assists the lawyer, not replace him or her.
The Institute of Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® highly recommends that any person seeking a divorce also seek legal counsel. Since divorce is a legal process, it requires having qualified advice by trained professionals.
Rob Rodgers, CFP®, CDFA®, Senior Vice President, is Hefren-Tillotson's in-house Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® which allows him to specialize in examining the financial impact of proposed divorce settlements, while he helps his clients navigate the many financial issues related to a divorce.
If you would like more information, or have questions regarding mediation vs. divorce, please let us know here at Hefren-Tillotson. We would be happy to assist you.
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