Family Court Charleston: Divorce and Mediation, What’s the Best Option?
Family Court Charleston
A divorce occurs once every 13 seconds in the U.S. – that’s over 2.4 million divorces per year. A divorce focuses on family court including the legal, contractual aspects of a marriage. These issues most typically include the division of property and retirement accounts, alimony, child custody and child support, and tax matters.
You have options with family law in Charleston, including the decision between beginning the process with mediation or litigation. However, even if you decide there is good reason to initiate litigation from the start, South Carolina requires all divorcing spouses attempt to resolve the issues of their divorce through mediation before the court will schedule your case for a final trial.
In mediation, a neutral third party, called a mediator, meets with each spouse, with or without their attorneys, to resolve issues of the divorce. If the spouses cannot resolve the issues through a mediator, the case would move into litigation or proceed to a final trial. In our practice we have found mediation produces an agreement between the spouses approximately 90% of the time.
Mediation vs. Litigation
How do you decide if pre-litigation mediation is the right choice for your situation? Attempting to resolve the issues of your divorce through mediation before initiating litigation may be a good choice if there are no issues of abuse, risk of harm to either spouse and/ or your children, and if both spouses are reasonably familiar with the family’s finances. Usually, the earlier you mediate the more likely it is your family can be protected from the inherent damage caused by divorce litigation. It’s important to remember you will have to mediate sooner or later, because mediation is mandatory in all South Carolina Family Court Cases. While it may seem unlikely you will reach an agreement, never doubt the value of a trained and talented mediator to think outside the box to craft a creative plan to resolve the issues between you and your spouse in a civil way.
Mediation & Litigation Costs
There are many benefits to choosing mediation over litigation, including the cost, and the length of the process. Mediation costs a fraction of litigation, and can resolve the issues in your divorce in a matter of weeks, rather than the months usually required to conclude litigation. In mediation, you also have the power to craft an agreement that better suits your family. Not to mention it can lessen the damage litigation inevitably will cause to your family. There is also evidence divorced spouses are more likely to comply with agreements reached through mediation. For example, if you have children, statistics show 80% voluntary compliance with child support agreements vs. just 40% compliance with child support orders obtained through litigation. Finally, while mediation is confidential, litigation becomes part of the public record.
Whether you choose to mediate prior to filing litigation, or later in the process, an attorney can help prepare you to walk wisely through your divorce. Contact my office today to learn about your options.