Mediation vs. Litagation

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2012
Mediation vs. Litagation
5
Thu, 11-28-2013 - 9:40am

I unfortunately allowed my ex to call the shots as to how we proceeded through our settlement. He insisted that we use a mediator as we "have nothing to agrue about". Okay here is what I have learned.  Maybe it will help someone else make a decision about which road to take.

1)  If you earn about the same amount of money and there is nothing to split but property..... mediation might just work for you.

2) If you retain a lawyer to help you construct your proposals..... mediation might just work for you.

3) Otherwise.... run away, and run very fast.

Fortunately I am becoming educated before it is too late.  I listened to ex and almost got screwed.  I allowed some things to be used as negotiated items, and these were not tangible things, but financial things that I needed to impove my earning potential.  I lost in that battle. Then I got smart. He played his hand and it is about to backfired on him.  

I came here about a year ago to ask some questions. The question I never asked was about people's experiences with mediation.  If I had, I might have taken a different path.  If you earn substanially less than your ex, do not go through mediation.  The financial obligation  that is owed you IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. How it is paid is, but not the obligation.  Of course this depends on your states rules. The state I am filing in is very generous to long term marriages towards the spouse who has less earnings.  Using the law to get what you are entitled to is not taking advantage, it is protecting yourself and your future.  Do not settle for less.

The other lesson I learned is if you agree to a settlement while emotions are running high, you are more likely to accept less "just to be done with it".  Unless there are reasons why you need get out fast, take your time.  Gain your strength back, you are going to need it. All the issues that led to the break up of the marraige come back to haunt you in the settlement process.  You will need all the strength you have to get through this.  You also need to have someone who is going to be your backbone when you cannot be.  I am so lucky to have an amazing best friend and a wonderful man in my life who are straight forward and supportive as you go through this.  During the times when I would have settled for less to not have to deal with this mess, they have kept me going.  They have helped me think rationally.

 For financial reasons, we waited 3 years to file.  This gave me time to build up myself.  Even with that, this has been extremely painful. For the times when I couldn't see any options, I had people showing me I did.  I still have a ways to go in my divorce settlement, but I have regained (again) my strength and footing. I have the advantage and hold the keys to what he wants.  Do not be afraid to fight for what you want.  EVER!  I do not want to "take him for every penny", I just want what is fair. He earns a huge salary, and I do not.  He is not going to ride off into the sunset with all the options and money while I have gone without food or house without heat.  The time I put into the marriage so that he could earn that salary, is worth more than that.  

Find yourself. Find your strength. Do not be bullied or guilted into less than you are entitled to.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 11-28-2013 - 11:17am

I am reading this from the perspective of a divorce lawyer who does litigation and not mediation--I would always recommend that people to mediation, because even though I'm the one getting the money (or rather my boss is), if people can come to an agreement that saves them many thousands of $$ and they can reach a settlement in a shorter amount of time and get less stress, then I think that is always preferable than litigation, where the judge makes the ultimate decision and then maybe no one is happy.

I think you made good points though--first of all you need to know your rights so you need to know what to ask for, what you are willing to give up on and what you won't budge on.  If one party suggests mediation because they really want to hit you over the head with their agenda (like maybe not paying alimony) then it's not going to work.  Both parties need to come to the table in a spirit of cooperation.  And I definitely agree that you shouldn't be willing to give away the farm just to get things over with.  In my 2nd divorce (yes, I know it from that side too) I probably gave away some money just to get my ex out of the house and not to have to fight with him.  I wish I didn't, but it wasn't that much money and I was happy to be rid of him ASAP.  But then on the other hand, he could have insisted that our house be sold right away to get his 1/2 of the money out, since I couldn't afford to refinance for that big an amount, but he allowed me to wait 6 yrs til my son from the 1st marriage graduates from high school.  So I guess I can't really complain.  I've been divorced twice--in neither case did we use lawyers or have a constested divorce.

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Sat, 11-30-2013 - 3:32pm

The whole idea of fair is a POV.  But there are ways of mitigating without Spending huge amounts of money to lawyers.   First look at the tax codes.  A high earner could get a tax deduction for alimony that lowers their tax bill.  I am always for win-win.  Emotions clouds reason.   I worked at a bank where one antenuptial agreement had the wife paid (hired) for every business dinner and social affair  that the H was required to attend.   

 

dragowoman

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2012
Sun, 12-01-2013 - 11:00pm
I think the idea of mediation is basically sound. If I could do without his moneyI, I would happily sign away to get rid of him. Unfortunately, I earn next to nothing and had to make some major life changes in order to get a job. I have gone without food and even a place that had heat. I did this so that my daughter could attend the college of her choice. Now, it's my time. Yes, he is experienced at negotiating, and I am not able to take the emotions out of this. It's hard to do when you were emotionally beaten up so that the end of the marriage was not his fault, but mine and he had an affair for years. Choice her over the children. So no, this is not a business deal, as I am told I should be viewing it as. 20+ years of marriage, I deserve what I can get. I am tired of the mediator telling me I should try and think about his side, and how he will become frustrated and not want to negotiate. This after he avoided contact with her for almost 2 months. I was much more willing to negotiate before he began to play games. That is why I do not thing mediation is a good way to go. One person perceives as being able to bully the other to get what they want. That is not fair bargaining. No, I do not want to go through litigation. I may lose some things, but if it means getting his attention that he cannot just pay me scraps to get rid of me, I am all in. He is playing too many games. We are not arguing over cars and homes. We are arguing over my financial future. I would be so happy to say screw you and walk away. But I can't. If someone chooses mediation, they should be aware of the pitfalls. The worst is when it is obvious that the mediator is more for one side than the other. I hold the key to what my ex wants. IF he wants no responsibility, it will come at a price. Sad thing about this process is I wasn't angry until it began. I would have settled for less. I was pushed and pushed but both ex and the mediator. Now I know what I am entitled to, so he is stuck with it. Ex and I used to keep in touch every so often, mostly about our kids, but now, nothing. I don't want anything to do with him. I want to move on and not have to deal with him unless absolutely necessary. I guess that's what divorce does to you. Makes you enemies.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-20-2005
Fri, 12-27-2013 - 10:59pm

Question about mediation vs litigation - if you start the mediation process but realize its not working, can you stop and the choose litigation?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-20-2005
Fri, 12-27-2013 - 10:59pm

Question about mediation vs litigation - if you start the mediation process but realize its not working, can you stop and the choose litigation?