Divorce is a very personal process. Dissolving a marriage is not just the end of a contract, but the end of a relationship. When you’re going through a divorce, maintaining your privacy is understandably a top priority. It can be more difficult to do that than you might think.
Methods of Divorce
There are several ways to get a divorce. Since a marriage is a legal contract, it’s necessary to work with the legal system in some manner to end that contract. Furthermore, the assets that were combined under the contract need to be divided in a just and legal fashion. Just like business contracts, divorce and asset division can be handled in public courts, private courts, or through mediation.
Public courts are the most common method of deciding divorce settlements in the country. Handling divorce settlements in a public court is not necessarily easier, but it is the most easily accessible option. One party files for divorce and the court will hear the case in the order it was filed. Both parties in the divorce agree to abide by the judge’s decision regarding asset division, and any order the judge makes are legally binding.
Private courts work similarly. However, instead of working with a public judge, the couple hires a private judge to speed up their case. The judge still has the final say over asset division and their decisions are still legally binding.
Mediation is an alternative to using any type of judge to decide on the divorce settlement. Both parties and their attorneys hire an impartial third party to help discuss and work through potential issues in the divorce process. As long as both partners are willing to negotiate, a mediator can help speed up the divorce settlement and asset division process significantly. More importantly, mediation helps both of you retain your privacy in a way public courts do not.
The Drawbacks of Public Courts
An important aspect of public courts is that they are just that: public. The public court system maintains records of all cases that go through their system, including evidence, testimony, and decisions. When a public court system is in charge of your divorce settlement, then the entire divorce becomes a matter of public record.
For some people, this is no problem. However, for people with significant assets or people in the public eye, this is troubling. Anyone with an internet connection and an hour to spare can go through the divorce proceedings and find numbers, property values, and even ordered alimony payments in some cases. That’s exactly the kind of information most people prefer to keep private, and public courts prevent that from happening.
Furthermore, most public courts are also open to the public. At any hearing date, people may enter a courtroom and watch the proceedings. This can include friends, relatives, strangers, journalists, or anyone else who wants to show up. It’s rare for there to be a divorce hearing in public court without at least a few uninvolved people in attendance.
Public courts are also a much slower and less efficient method of handling divorce settlements. Cases are heard in the order they are filed unless there are extraordinary circumstances. If a couple just wants a quick and uncomplicated divorce, a public court will not make this easier.
Finally, in court, the judge’s word is law. While both parties can present their case, the judge will be making the actual decisions. When it comes to asset division and divorce settlements, this can result in neither party being satisfied. There is little room for negotiation in the courtroom, and that is not always to your benefit.
Why Divorce Mediation Is Effective
Mediation is by nature a collaborative experience. The mediator is not there to make choices for you. Instead, their goal is to help you and your former partner put together a settlement that makes both of you happy. Unlike in court, the entire process is a negotiation to find the settlement that works for you, instead of a cookie cutter division of property.
This is much more satisfying for both parties. Divorce is unsettling and creates some significant upheaval in most people’s lives. Using mediation instead of a judge to determine a settlement gives both of you a measure of control that otherwise isn’t available.
Mediation is also efficient. Mediators are much more flexible than the court system. Any time you can get the mediator, yourself, and your former partner in the same room, you can work on the settlement. There’s no waiting for court dates or sitting through other people’s cases while waiting to be called. For busy people, this is a huge benefit, especially when the court system is facing a backlog of cases as they are this year.
Finally, and most importantly, mediation is private. Because mediation doesn’t involve the public courts, nothing is public record. No one needs to be in the room other than the divorcing couple, the mediator, and potentially the couple’s attorneys – no nosey members of the public allowed. All numbers and information remain private, because mediators treat their clients’ files as completely confidential.
It’s important to note that mediation is only binding if both parties agree. If one party is blocking an effective resolution of the settlement, then litigation is always an option, either through a public or private court. However, it’s much more difficult to begin the litigation process in a court and then back out and try to mediate an agreement. If you are open to mediation, then it’s simplest to begin there and them move to litigation if the other party isn’t cooperating.
Your Privacy is Paramount
A divorce is stressful on its own; there’s no reason to make it worse by airing your private information to the public. Instead, consider mediation as a private, efficient method of keeping your divorce completely confidential. Mediation can help you move through the divorce process quickly, smoothly, and without a hassle, allowing you to get on with your life without worrying about losing your privacy.