Valentine’s Day and Divorce

Every year, as February nears, shops fill with heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and teddy bears that say “I love you.” Having all that shoved in your face can be tough if you’re going through a rough period with your partner, and it might even serve as a wake-up call that it’s time to let go of a relationship that isn’t serving anyone.

Many unhappy couples are reluctant to opt for a divorce — not just because of the emotional difficulties implied but also the costs usually associated with the process. However, there are ways to get through the process smoothly.

Introducing alternative dispute resolution

The media often portrays divorces as messy processes that inevitably involve long-drawn-out trials in court, meaning expensive lawyer fees and a significant amount of stress along the way. They don’t tend to mention that couples can instead opt for alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

ADR involves a neutral third party — known as a “mediator” — who guides a discussion between both parties about what they want from the divorce. This could mean discussion about a financial settlement, how custody of children will be shared, and what will happen to shared properties.

Both parties will have the opportunity to speak up about what they want, but they should also listen to their spouse’s point of view. The mediator will keep everyone on task and ensure the discussion stays productive.

It should be noted that, although mediators are trained legal professionals, they don’t provide legal advice or finalize divorces. They’re simply there to guide couples through the process of reaching an agreement.

Benefits of mediation

One of the most attractive elements of mediation is that it’s more affordable than a court trial. Plus, instead of both parties involved in the divorce having to fork out money for their own lawyers to negotiate and, or litigate, they can split the cost of one mediator who facilitates discussion in a non-adversarial manner – benefitting them both. They can still use their attorneys for guidance if they want, limiting their costs.

This approach also tends to facilitate cooperation. Trials often seem like a “battle” that one person wins and the other loses, while mediation is all about two people trying to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

If the sessions go well, mediation can also be a swift process that gets sorted in a matter of weeks or months rather than having to go through lengthy court proceedings that drag out for a year or more.

Finally, mediation is confidential, so both spouses can speak their minds and take a collaborative approach without worrying it could somehow work against them later in the process. Again, this helps keep everyone involved in a positive frame of mind.

Get the help you need

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a reason for you to feel sad, frustrated, or alone. Let it be the catalyst for you to make a fresh start.

If you’re looking for the right mediator to undertake this journey with you, Donita King could be the perfect choice. She’s a qualified lawyer-mediator who has helped countless couples reach a peaceful, satisfactory divorce, and she’d love for you to achieve the same outcome. To learn more, contact her law offices today.

Donita King

Ms. King is a member of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. State Bars. She also serves as a University of Richmond School of Law Adjunct Professor of Mediation. She previously served on the Virginia Bar Association Joint ADR Council (2015 Chair), and served for several years on the Governor of Virginia’s Interagency Dispute Resolution Council. Ms. King currently serves as a board member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board by appointment of the Virginia Supreme Court and has been active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Women in Business as well. Se habla espanol.

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