PRO: Mediation can save time and money.
It can cost less than $10,000 and take as little as four months.
CON: One lawyer can’t represent both spouses.
A mediator’s job is to find common ground, not to represent either party’s best interests. For that, spouses need their own lawyers. “The client can tell me anything, and I have no obligation to disclose any of that to the other side,” says Media attorney Greg LaMonaca. “We can still negotiate an agreement out of court, but I’ll be advocating for my client, not for settlement.”
CON: Bullies win.
Christine Palmer Hennigan cautions that mediation is not the right arena for already dysfunctional relationships. “Where I don’t see it work is when one person suggests mediation under the guise that it’s inexpensive and fast,” says the certified divorce financial analyst. “But they’re really trying to take over the process and bully the other person into a settlement.”
PRO: It keeps the divorce out of court.
“Couples create their own settlement with valuable education and guidance from highly trained professionals who support and facilitate productive, respectful and practical dialogue,” says attorney Crispino Pastore, cofounder of the Main Line Family Law Center.
CON: Forensic accounting isn’t always conducted in mediation.
Radnor attorney Randi Vladimer has cleaned up mediated settlements based on inaccurate accounting of assets. “Many get significantly less than if they’d retained an attorney and negotiated a settlement,” she says. “They often don’t know what they’re entitled to and are bullied by their spouses.”