Like many newlywed couples, you may have had plans for your future. You may have wanted to raise a family, build a dream home and plan your retirement together. Unfortunately, things did not work out according to your plans, and you are now facing the emotional turmoil of a divorce.
In a similar way, you may have plans for your divorce. Maybe you hope you and your spouse can negotiate a fair agreement for custody and property division, go your separate ways, and remain friendly in the years to come. You may be fortunate if your divorce meets your expectations. However, you may also find yourself struggling to keep the peace when your ex wants only war.
Heading to court?
Mediation is the preferred way to divorce. It keeps the Virginia courts from becoming cluttered with divorces that couples can work out on their own. Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution also make the divorce process easier on any children involved, and ADR can leave you and your spouse with a more amicable parting than a traditional litigated divorce. However, mediation is not for every couple, and you may be better off taking your divorce to court if any of the following circumstances exist:
- Your spouse plans to use the mediation process to exact revenge on you.
- Your ex has no intention of negotiating in good faith and wants only to make unreasonable demands of you.
- Your ex plans to use the mediation meetings to gather information to use in a litigated divorce.
- Your spouse intimidates or frightens you so much that you would be unable to stand up for your rights during negotiations.
- You believe your spouse is hiding assets, in which case the discovery phase of a litigated divorce may benefit you.
- Your spouse has been violent or abusive toward you, in which case it may be safer for your divorce proceedings to take place in a public area where armed guards can protect you.
Mediation is also a private process, so what you discuss will remain confidential as long and you and your ex keep it that way. On the other hand, litigation goes on the public record. If you feel the public should know what led to the divorce, you may prefer to skip mediation and go to court. This is a popular choice when one spouse has misbehaved in a marriage but holds a place of public honor or high reputation.
If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate and negotiate, mediation may be the best choice for your divorce. You would be wise to discuss your circumstances with an attorney who is skilled in all methods of divorce for a better understanding of the options available to you.