In the United States, the overwhelming majority of divorce cases are resolved or settled and do not go to trial. Mediation occurs in the majority of those divorce cases which do settle.
Florida Divorce Mediation is a process where a neutral individual/professional works with the divorcing parties and/or their West Palm Beach divorce attorney to assist them in reaching a settlement regarding the issues involved in their divorce case. The mediator is not a judge. Consequently, the mediator cannot order or require the parties to come to any specific agreement or indicate what the agreement would be or the solution will be in the event the parties cannot agree. The only role the mediator can play is to attempt to bring both parties to an agreement regarding an issue or issues dividing them.
Recently Susan Lillis, an experienced divorce attorney/mediator in Massachusetts, discussed four errors to avoid in divorce mediations. They include:
- Minimizing the importance of retirement funds. It is not unusual for the person who has been contributing to a retirement fund during a marriage to think that it is his or her asset during a subsequent divorce. It also is not unusual for a pension or retirement account to be one of the most valuable assets of the marriage. Alternatives to not receiving the retirement funds or a smaller portion of the retirement funds are attempting to trade retirement accounts for another marital asset or dividing them in the future on an “if and as if, as, and when” basis. In other words, the parties would define a debt that would incur in the future which would trigger an automatic division of the accumulated retiring accounts;
- Rushing through the Parenting Plan/ Schedule. Someone once said “The Devil is Always in the Details”. Such is often the case with parenting plans/ schedules. At the time of mediation, the parents may be on good terms and in agreement about everything that has to do with the children. Often they think it’s not necessary to put into writing details about how they are going to share time with the children over the holidays or to schedule a mid-week visitation rather than just playing it by ear. The lack of a detailed Parenting Plan/ Schedule means putting control of those details in the sole domain of the custodial or majority timesharing parent. You may be in agreement regarding child-related issues when you’re getting divorced, but that agreement can disappear quite suddenly after the divorce is over. Being as specific as possible at the time when you are on good terms during mediation is a good way to avoid problems if things become strained between the spouses in the future.
- Neglecting to explore options for medical insurance. During most marriages, spouses and children are often on the same medical insurance plan. Most people assume that this will be the best choice after a divorce. In this day of two-wage earner families and access to healthcare, a spouse who is on his ex-spouse’s insurance plan should, at the very least, consider getting insurance of his or her own. While some divorce agreements will allow an ex to stay on their spouse’s insurance plan, this way may not be the best option. As long as you are a member of your former spouse’s health insurance plan, your insurance coverage will be tied to your former spouse’s ability and willingness to keep the same employment. In addition, there is a lack of privacy concerns. After the divorce, your ex may have access to account information that might reveal more than you would like.
- Ignoring the pitfalls of joint home ownership. Many divorcing couples often will opt to keep the family home for a period of years after the divorce. They may do so for the sake of the children, or because of an expectation that the value of the marital home will rise subsequent to the divorce. However, keeping the house in joint names does create specific problems. The two future joint owners have very different interests and when one of them lives in the jointly owned home. This may cause a divergence in opinions upon what repairs are necessary and the quality of the repair or replacement of the various components of the home after the divorce. Suppose the person who lives in the house wants to make improvements to the bathroom and argues that doing so will enhance the resale value of the home. Even if that is true, will the former spouse want to put that money in the house or would he or she rather spend it on their vacation or on themselves in some other fashion. Potential conflicts should be seriously considered prior to agreeing to this kind of arrangement.
We all hope that in a logical world, people will remain reasonable and attempt to resolve their differences quickly, economically, and with good grace and intent. However, after people are divorced they can change their opinions, attitudes, and behaviors towards their former spouses. To prevent these changes from negatively impacting your child timesharing/visitation, your relationship with your children, and/or your receipt of support, a person needs to be as detailed as possible in drafting his or her settlement agreement. If there is any item that you believe you and your spouse may disagree about at a future date, then think long and hard about it and then put the potential solution to this issue in writing. It’s the easiest way to avoid the above errors.
Avoid Mediation Errors: Contact a West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney for Help with Your Mediation
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.