A majority of divorces begin with a vague mutual notion of wanting to get through the process “amicably” so they can move on with their lives. Why then do most of divorces end up being highly contentious anyway? Because people simply have unreasonable expectations about what the process of litigation will deliver to them.
Mediation is an excellent way to get through your divorce amicably, fairly, efficiently, and as painlessly as a painful situation can be, but you really need to have the stomach for it. You and your spouse both need to be willing to hear things that you may not want to hear, and if you can do this, with the help of an experienced family law attorney, you will be able to craft an agreement as close to fair as possible based on sound and informed legal decisions.
You will have a sense of ownership that you never get from court over the outcome of your case. And you will save yourself and your spouse tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, as well as many months of grueling litigation while languishing in uncertainty. Divorces can be profoundly unpleasant. So a solid and comprehensive mediated agreement will assure you that the entire matter truly is behind you.
It is doubtful that anyone would find themselves reading this blog by accident or simply because they’re interested in the topic. It is more likely that anyone reading this is facing the prospect of the dissolution of marriage, and they are exploring their options.
This blog is intended to compliment previous blogs on the issues of community property and uncontested divorce. If you read the blog on community property, you understand that, in a New Mexico divorce, there are two classes of property and debt: separate and community. Every property item contemplated in your divorce proceeding is going to be separate, community, or some combination of both.
And if you read the blog on uncontested divorce, you know that there are very many matters that need to be discussed, agreed upon, and included in your final orders in order to avoid pitfalls down the road owing to details and aspects that were overlooked or simply not contemplated in the initial filings. This is because most people are not attorneys, and as such, they lack the legal education, knowledge and experience required to fully engage and navigate the process of divorce in an informed matter. Many potential clients literally don’t even know what questions to ask on top of the fact that they are in a highly charged emotional state. This is not the best mind frame for making critical decisions.
Consider the seasoned family law attorney; Michelle Cortez and William Hoskovec both made substantial educational investments several years ago in order to obtain their law degrees—and since that time, they have spent all day, every day, practicing in this specific area of family law. Long ago, they learned the ropes of domestic relations laws, the rules of evidence and procedure, as well as courtroom decorum—and with that, they are singularly focused on sharpening the tools and means available to them to secure the best possible outcomes for their clients in an adversarial process. They have amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience that grows with every single case which in turn increases their ability to:
- Identify client objectives and strategy to obtain them; and
- Accurately assist the client in managing their expectations and knowing what expect (and not expect) of the process.
This ability can only come from years of experience. Mediation is an opportunity for parties to avail themselves of our attorneys’ extensive knowledge and experience and arrive at the best possible alternative to litigation.
What Can You Expect from Mediation?
The mediation process begins with both parties and the attorney entering a Mediation Retention Agreement. Unlike a standard Representation Agreement, the Retention Agreement makes it clear that the attorney is not representing either spouse and will not provide any legal advice to either. The attorney will discuss legal options and answer questions at length as long as it is in the presence of both parties, but with the exception of the initial meetings, the lawyer will have zero exclusive communication with either party.
Both parties are included in all communications and, while the attorney does not represent either party, he or she will definitely guide the conversation and provide clear guidance to accurately manage both parties’ expectations. In other words, the mediation attorney occasionally has to deliver “reality checks” to one or both of the parties. If the parties trust the mediation attorney’s objectivity, they will understand that the attorney is not advocating for either party, but is advocating for the process of mediation itself. That’s why it is critical that parties are prepared to hear things they do not want to hear, if mediation is to be successful.
Mediation Risks & Rewards
As stated above, mediation is not always feasible. In order for mediation to be successful, both parties need to be open to the possibility that they will not get absolutely everything they think they deserve out of Court. The mediation attorney will earn his or her fees in helping parties identify issues of controversy and really understanding the frank and sometimes unpleasant realities of New Mexico Family Law to help them make rational and informed agreements.
The Risk – If the mediation breaks down and parties are unable to settle their case, the mediation attorney is not allowed to represent either party in the divorce. Also, the mediation process is strictly confidential, so the attorney may not be called into court to discuss any aspect of negotiations with two exceptions:
- If the parties in fact reach agreement, and
- What the agreement was.
Other than those two exceptions, the parties must begin the process as though the mediation had never been attempted.
The Reward – While every family situation is unique, if the average divorce will cost parties anywhere from $7,500.00 - $15,000.00 each, an average mediated divorce costs the parties between $4,000.00 and $7,500.00 total and unless agreed otherwise the parties share this cost equally. It is also cold comfort to note that if mediation is tried and fails, at least it was tried.
Consult an Experienced Attorney from Cortez & Hoskovec, LLC
Michelle Cortez and William Hoskovec both have extensive experience litigating all of the issues you will encounter during your divorce, and they have developed a keen understanding of what the Court will do with these issues. So if you and your spouse are truly open to mediation and prepared to sincerely negotiate a settlement, mediation is a slam dunk every time.