If either of you has retained a lawyer who has filed a divorce petition with the court, then you are in divorce litigation. You will communicate with each other through your lawyers in a process of negotiating from often conflicting positions. Both lawyers will begin preparing for trial by separately documenting your marital and separate property and debt as well as past and expected future incomes and expenses using formal legal procedures of depositions, interrogatories, forensic analyses and expert witnesses.
It is this lack of openness and information sharing, this duplication of effort and this negotiation from conflicting positions that are the primary reasons litigation is, in fact, more expensive and more time-consuming than Collaboration. Litigation, however, does not have to be so expensive. It can be less expensive, less contentious and more cooperative if you and your lawyers agree to engage a neutral financial mediator to document, value and mediate the division of your marital property and debt. If you own a business, the financial mediator, who is also a trained small business valuation analyst, will be able to explain how and why businesses are valued and then guide you to an agreement on a reasonable value range for your particular business. The financial mediator will also ask you how you each would prefer to divide your other property and debt and, if you both agree, will tentatively allocate a particular asset or debt to the one who prefers to have it pending review by your litigating attorneys in the final settlement conferences.
It may be even less expensive and time-consuming if a family professional mediator guides you through the design of your co-parenting plan and the financial mediator is actively involved by your lawyers in creating a safe container for child and spousal support negotiations during the settlement conferences.
Many courts encourage and some even require that you and your spouse attempt mediation before you go to court. The adversarial and contentious nature of litigation, however, may often have frustrated you both to the point where you are uncompromising and unable to negotiate with each other in good faith. Your unresolved personal issues will then be decided by an impersonal judge at trial. However, when financial and family mediation is encouraged by both of your litigating attorneys early in the divorce process, you stand a good chance of resolving most of your conflicts without having to endure the anxiety as well as the expense of actually going to court.
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