Pros and Cons of Mediation in Ohio Divorces

The goal of mediation is for you and your spouse to enter into a mediated settlement agreement in an Ohio divorce.

You can reach an agreement as to the entire case or as to specific issues, and leave to the judge those things you cannot agree about. But in all cases, the agreement is put in writing and filed in your divorce case. If you have an agreement before you have filed a divorce case, your mediated divorce settlement agreement will usually be filed with the other divorce papers, essentially making your divorce an uncontested one.

Sometimes, the final agreement may be called a Memorandum of Understanding or sometimes Mediated Settlement Agreement. Regardless of what you name it, the important thing to understand about these mediated agreements is that they are treated like any other contract, and once signed become binding If you change your mind for any reason and later want the judge to relieve you from what you agreed to do, you will have to litigate that. Litigation to try and get a settlement agreement set aside is costly; and depending on the facts of your case, may not be successful.

Divorce Mediation Columbus Ohio

Because these agreements can bind you, it is important that you understand the legal significance of what you are agreeing to.  The only option to understand the legal significance of your agreement is to have an attorney review the agreement before you sign it.  This is not a problem if you are represented by a divorce lawyer since that is what lawyers are supposed to do for you—make sure you understand the legal consequences.

If you have attended mediation without a lawyer, you can still have a divorce lawyer review that mediated divorce agreement for you.  This doesn’t mean hiring a lawyer to do the divorce but simply hiring them to review the agreement with you and answer all your questions or give you a heads up as to what you should be concerned about.

Now that you know more about the divorce mediation process, it will be easier to see the major benefits of using mediation for your divorce.

These major benefits are control, certainty of the outcome, confidentiality, and savings on legal fees.

Control

In a mediation, you and your spouse decide what issues to settle, and with how much detail and flexibility given your individual interests and goals.  Divorce trials, or the litigated divorce process itself, does not leave a lot of control in the hands of the couple getting divorce; control is left in the hands of the judge.

Courts have rules and procedures to follow to make sure there is an opportunity for each side to present their case.  These rules and procedures include time frames to get and present evidence, whether that evidence is documents or witnesses.

A different set of rules for evidence also limits what evidence you can present to the court.

By contrast, in a mediation you and your spouse set the pace of the mediation.  But, perhaps more important, since the rules of evidence do not apply in a mediation, you and your spouse can consider whatever documents you want to present to the other to make sure that everything is fully discussed and decided on by the two of you.

Mediation do have rules or principles, and the mediator will tell you what they are at the start of the mediation; but compared to the rules in the judicial system itself, they are rather few.

Certainty of Outcome

Since in mediation you and your spouse work on getting the results you want, you have a pretty good idea of what the outcome of the divorce will be once you both reach an agreement.  You and your spouse can continue to work together to hash out your differences and get them written into an agreement that will work for you.

Contrast that with the outcome in a divorce trial:  the decisions made in a divorce trial will be made by the judge.  At the beginning of a litigated divorce case you know what you want.  As the case moves along, each of you will have limitations imposed by any number of things, from the cost of getting evidence to the ability to pay for legal fees as the case drags on.  Each of you will have to present evidence as to why the judge should rule in your favor.

But the bottom line is that until the judge renders their decision, you will not know what that decision is or even if it will give you some of the things you wanted.

The biggest downside of that litigated process is that if, after going through a trial, you do not like the result, you will have to appeal the judge’s decision.  This is true whether you disagree with the decision the judge made on one question or on the entire case.

Confidentiality

When it comes to confidentiality, mediating a divorce provides quite a bit more than a divorce trial.

All communication in a mediation is confidential, except for certain exceptions provided by law.

What this means to you and your spouse is that you are both free to engage in discussions to reach an agreement without having to worry that anything either of you say during the negotiations may later be used against you in court.

In Ohio, divorce trials are open to the public.  Court files created in a litigated case are also a matter of public record.  The end result is that the details of your married life are exposed for nearly anyone to learn about.

In a sense, mediation limits what you make public.  Of course, once you and your spouse have reached an agreement and you put that in writing,  the agreement itself is usually not confidential and is filed with the court.

Save on Legal and Other Litigation Fees

If you start at the mediation stage without lawyers before filing for divorce, you may very well end up with an agreement.  Ohio divorces with mediated agreements are uncontested divorces.

Since you are dealing directly with your spouse and without lawyers, each of you will probably save a substantial amount in legal fees.  Since there is no litigation involved, you end up saving on other fees related to litigation such as subpoenas, service of process, court reporters, etc.

If you want to explore using a mediator first, get a list of certified Phio divorce mediators in your area.

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