How is a Mediated Divorce Different from a Contested Divorce?
In a mediated divorce, both parties will be meeting with their experienced family and divorce mediator, an independent neutral party, to settle and resolve all disputed issues that are relevant to your divorce, custody or support matter. A “mediated divorce” assumes that you will be successful in reaching a mutual understanding through the mediation process, and that all the terms of your agreement will become a part of the final Judgment of Divorce. In contrast, in a contested divorce there is no overall mutual agreement, and consequently, your case will proceed to hearings and a final trial for the Judge to ultimately decide the financial and parenting matters. Even if your divorce starts out as a contested divorce, that doesn’t foreclose the possibility that during the pendency of your case, and before it goes before the Court for a decision, that you will achieve agreements that resolve one or more issues. In fact, a great majority of “contested” divorce cases do resolve themselves by agreement rather than by proceeding to trial. A trial can be lengthy and expensive whereas mediation can result in a much faster divorce at a much lower expense.
A successful mediated divorce becomes an uncontested divorce. Once an agreement is achieved, your divorce will proceed as an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, a judge will review the separation agreement entered into by the parties and if finding it to be fair and equitable and in the best interest of any children, will enter the agreement as a final Order, the Judgment of Divorce or Dissolution of the marriage. Mediation can also be used for post-judgment modifications as well. There are times where parties would like to make a change to the terms of a divorce decree after it is issued. They may or may not agree to those changes. This is where mediation can come in; to assist the parties in making necessary modifications based on changes in circumstances as life evolves.