Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire

Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire
Bend Don't Break- Mediate!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Divorce Mediation: How 3 Professionals Cost Less Than 2



A math problem and riddle: How can [1+1] add up to more than [1+2]? The answer? Attorney-led Divorce Negotiations vs. Divorce mediation followed by attorney review of the Separation Agreement.

In attorney-driven divorce and separation negotiations, to arrive at the legal and binding Separation Agreement, 2 attorneys, representing the Husband and Wife independently, negotiate the terms of the parties' Separation Agreement. 1 + 1. Notoriously expensive. Often produces additional animosity between the parties.

In separation and divorce mediation, 1 mediator facilitates the parties' face-to-face negotiations, which are then drafted into a Separation Agreement (often by the mediator), and the Separation Agreement is then reviewed by 2 attorneys, representing the Husband and Wife independently. 1+2. Cost-effective. Usually diminishes animosity between the parties.

Therefore [1+1] is more than [2+1] in terms of financial and emotional costs. This may be counter-intuitive, but it is typically true.

Think about the realities of divorce settlement negotiations, and the truth of this riddle's answer is apparent. What will be the child's schedule? How will Christmas be shared by the parties? How much does each party earn? What are the expenses of the children? Can one party qualify to buy out the interest of the other in the Marital Home? What are the expenses of the Home? What is the fair way to divide the equity or pay the deficiency?What are the income and the expenses of each party? Where are the assets? How are the credit cards titled? Should each party keep his or her own car? How long should the parties jointly maintain car insurance?

The point is that there is little magic to a fair negotiation of a divorce settlement. The parties are typically the experts in their own lives, whether the negotiations are about the children, their home and/or their assets and liabilities. As such, their direct negotiations are far more efficient and knowledgeable.

This does not negate the usefulness of obtaining legal advice. In mediation, very often a party is consulting with his or her own attorney during the negotiation, and always prior to signing the formal Separation Agreement. The parties simply cut out the middleman, by adding a middleman- namely the mediator. The mediator adds the neutral third party to assist the parties in what can be highly emotionally charged situations. The lawyers remain, but only as legal advisors, not negotiators. The parties are their own negotiators.

Hence 3 professionals actually end up costing far less than 2 professionals. The mediator promotes settlement, not antagonism. The mediator promotes settlement, not court battles.

Do the math. Ask your prospective attorneys about the cost to hand the negotiations over to him or her. Then find out about the cost of divorce mediation with Nancy Caplan, Attorney and Mediator. Do the math.