Divorce Mediation moves you forward – Litigation Holds you back

07 February 2014

As the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Karen Stewart, the founder of Fairway Divorce Solutions, certainly knows that. Mediation is the chance to turn the lemons of divorce into lemonade. Like Karen, my business partner Cheryl and I both have had the experience of witnessing divorce first hand. Cheryl as an adult and I as a teenager. Ask Cheryl and me how the experience was and you'll get two markedly different answers.

The Good - Mediation

MediationCheryl mediated her divorce in 2002, even before mediation had gained popularity and social acceptance as a more peaceful and cost-effective way to divorce.

 "What the heck is mediation?" her friends asked her. Her family immediately said "go and get a lawyer — you don't want to get ripped off in your divorce! You've got to keep the house!"

But despite the questions and warnings of her friends and family, Cheryl decided to mediate her divorce. And instead of spending years of her life and hundreds of thousands of dollars (regardless if it's CAD$ or US$) on a litigated divorce, she was able to complete the entire proceeding in a few months and for much less than even the cost of one attorney's retainer.

With those financial and emotional savings, she was able to keep the house and rebuild her life a lot faster than if she litigated. How do I know? Because she and I met a mere year and a half after her divorce and she was back on her feet. Confident and ready to date again.

Was it easy? Of course not. But it sure was a heck of a lot better than my parent's story.

The Bad - Litigation

On the other end of the spectrum is the story of me and my parents. After 22 years of marriage, they decided to call it quits. And while it wasn't a big surprise as they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for a while and my father would come home late after everyone was asleep, it's HOW they went about it that was the surprise.

At first, I was happy when they said they were getting a divorce as I thought it meant the fighting would stop but what did I know as I was only a kid. They spent the better part of the next three years "fighting" by litigating their divorce.

Instead of yelling at each other in the house, their lawyers, the various judges and the what seemed like the entire court system "yelled" at them with their endless letters, court appearances, invoices and demands for discovery. All I wanted to do was get to soccer practice on time and instead we had to always "swing by the lawyer's office" or prepare a letter to send to the judge as to why we should be able to stay in the house.

So on and on it went. All that money. All that time. And what did I get out of it? Nothing. In fact, I lost more than either of them ever gained through this whole ugly process.

The Ugly — A Lost Childhood

It turns out my dad was so mad at my mom that I guess he misplaced that anger on me. The last time I saw him was in court when they were discussing who would (or in his case wouldn't) pay for college. That was 30 years ago. Have no idea where he is and haven't seen him since. And that's a shame because I have a nice wife, a comfortable home, two crazy dogs and some great friends now and would have loved to share that with him.

I guess in a way I have him to thank as if it weren't for that harrowing experience with a litigated divorce, I wouldn't be a divorce mediator. It seems that Karen and I have that in common. Although to be honest, I wish neither of us had to go through what we went through.

Finally Some Good News

Want to know what it is? You have a choice. A choice in how you divorce. You can choose to burn the whole thing down to the ground by hiring lawyers and litigating or you can choose the peaceful path forward by using mediation.

So if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of getting a divorce, please meditate. If not for your own sake, for the sake of your kids. Whether you or they realize it at this very moment, you will all be much better off as a family unit. Today, tomorrow and 30 years from now.

Trust me.

Equitable Mediation Services' Founder & Managing Partner Joe Dillon oversees the firm's practice areas of divorce mediation and divorce financial analysis and works personally with clients throughout the United States. To learn more about Equitable Mediation and the services they offer please visit https://www.equitablemediation.com/or call (877) 732 6682 today.