Almost no divorce decree is ever final. Salaries change and can therefore affect child support, schedules change and can affect child custody or parenting plans. Vacation time may need to be renegotiated, daycare costs might need adjustment. When you have to make changes to your decree, is it necessary to head back to court?
The good news is that you do not have to revisit the courtroom, and in fact, if you and your ex can agree to mediation, you may have to have very little contact with your attorneys.
How can mediation help?
Mediation is a process where both parties meet with a neutral third party to discuss changes. The third party is usually a licensed attorney who can apprise the individuals of the law that applies to their situation, review the facts in the case and guide discussion that can provide a resolution. The mediator listens to concerns from both parties and helps them come to an understanding of options that might be both appropriate and in the best interests of the family.
In the case of a child support modification, the mediator will review documents and paystubs and apply applicable statutes to attempt a resolution. For child custody, discussions may be centered around the best interests of the family as a whole and how they can be accommodated.
Why is mediation a good option?
Two of the most important advantages of mediation are cost and collaboration. Because there is not the cost of two attorneys involved, mediation can save hundreds of dollars in attorney's fees. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator notifies the respective attorneys and an order is drafted. The agreement is signed and submitted to the court. It is a straightforward procedure that can be done in a timely manner.
Too, it has been shown that using a collaborative approach to resolving issues allows families to tailor their agreement to their unique family circumstances. These families are generally happier with the outcome and are also more likely to abide by the order they have created, rather than one that is created by the court.