Starting the process of separating from a partner can feel overwhelmingly full of new emotions and stresses, as well as a lot of curiosities as to what your options are. One of our missions here at Ryder & Phelps is to ensure that you are aware of and understand the different options that you have, in hopes to ease some of those emotions and stresses. You might be familiar with the term “mediation” – but what does that mean? How does that differ from a traditional divorce in the state of Massachusetts?
Mediation is a process of separation in which the two parties meet with a mediator to facilitate and aid in resolving conflicts and disputes. The mediator remains impartial to either party, and instead of determining how disputes are resolved, the mediator guides and facilitates them in the best interest of both parties. As the mediator serves as a guide for both parties, mediation would be an excellent option for couples looking to have a lot of control throughout the separation process. This process may also take less time than a traditional divorce, as it typically avoids the need for many of the court dates and discovery encountered in a traditional divorce. The mediation process also has the benefit of the parties being able to control when you meet with your mediator, while the traditional divorce process yields court assigned dates that both parties are required to attend. Once the parties decide on a separation agreement with the mediator, the divorce is filed, and just one court date is held to review the agreement in front of a judge.
Alternatively, a traditional divorce takes place when one party files for divorce from the other, and therefore, either party would be responsible for representing themselves or finding different attorneys to represent them. While in a traditional divorce you still have control over the separation process, you could additionally hire an attorney to help guide them through the process and often point you in the right direction.
Navigating the legal system can seem tricky or even scary, and having an attorney can certainly help with that navigation. While a mediator would be unbiased towards either party, a divorce attorney would be a strong advocate for you in your case.
Because of this, a traditional divorce may be best for parties who have a more complex case. High-asset divorces, potential custody issues, and any domestic violence issues might add an additional level to your case which would benefit from having the strong advocate of an attorney. This being said, a traditional divorce typically takes more time than a mediation would; the divorce process in Massachusetts can last anywhere between fourteen and eighteen months, but can take longer depending on the case.
While you may wonder if mediation is inherently better than traditional divorce, or vice versa, it is important to note that it all depends on the specific variables of your case. Our team hopes that this comprehensive guide can help you begin to navigate yourself in the beginnings of your separation. Further questions? Give us a call! You can reach us at 978-957-7000 or you can email our Legal Assistant Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation with an Attorney at our office.