Divorce Mediation Case Study #1

Drew and Allison

Drew and Allison came to us in fear and trepidation of the unknown. They had no idea what divorce mediation entailed and what to expect from the outcome. Their concerns ranged from the existing marital turmoil, emotional and financial implications of their impending divorce and their long-term needs and desires.  Their goal was to discuss custody, support, maintenance, religious observance and division of property, including the marital residence. Both parties were concerned with how they could possibly divide these assets and do so amicably.  They did not fully understand the advantages of divorce mediation services as opposed to a litigated divorce process. Drew and Allison both wanted to part ways amicably but were nervous whether mediation was the better and more efficient way to get divorced.  Would the process of working with a divorce mediator fully resolve all of their issues?

Win-Win Divorce mediation to the rescue. The first apparent concern was approaching the issue of the stay at home unemployed mom vs. the 6-figured salaried dad.  Allison was concerned how she would continue with her opulent lifestyle and exorbitant spending without her husbands support. Would she need to look for a full-time job and/or go back to school?  How would she support herself financially moving forward?  Her lavish spending of 10k a month on both basic and luxury items would have to be curtailed. Would a 5k budget suffice? Allison was very concerned about this & was even pondering, “do I get divorced or live in a dead-end marriage, not being happy, but at least financially secure.”  Drew on the other hand did not want to get divorced for other reasons, as he was secure in the stability of the family home & did not want to take that away. He knew he was in a dead-end marriage, but at the same time did not want to have his kids uprooted and living in 2 homes and destroying his family that was established 15 years ago. Furthermore, both parties’ religious observance changed through the years, as Drew continued with his Judaic practice, while Allision was straying from it. The back & forth continued between the parties, as the Husband & Wife were very torn. At first, the Wife, even with said trepidation from the past, was afraid of her uncertain future, but wanted to move on from the marriage.  It was interesting to note, that although Drew was initially reluctant to get divorced because of his desire to maintain emotional stability in the home, his thought process changed as the mediation progressed.  The emotional components of mediation that were discussed and conveyed, allowed Drew to come to the realization that it would be emotionally healthier to split-up than stay in a dead-end marriage despite his concerns.  We discussed how Allision would be able to get approximately $4,000 a month in child support & maintenance, after a 13-year marriage, but even that was not to her liking.  She did not know how she would financially survive.  Her lifestyle & religious observance was changing, and she needed to leave the marriage.  Her husband, on the other hand was observant and wanted to continue that lifestyle, which made it very hard for them to continue together raising their kids as a united front in a Jewish home.  Additionally, being in an advanced academic program, Allison had no idea how she would juggle school and earn part-time income.  Unfortunately, through the mediation experience, her unrealistic expectations were dramatically exposed.  In fact, we needed to make her aware that her desire for 6K a month was untenable.

As time went on, the Wife reluctantly agreed to a $4,250 monthly sum, divided up into $2,700 for child support & 1,550 in maintenance for 4 years.  Shared custody was also agreed to, as both parties realized how much the kids meant to them & how they wanted to be regularly involved in their lives. As such, both parties split the weekdays and weekends, which came out to 15 days each per month.  Moreover, both negotiated an equity split of the house and Allison settled on designating her husband ownership.  This agreement was based on the wife having bad credit, being unable to refinance and not having a co-signer.  Additionally, Drew agreed to pay more of his share for private school, and Wife agreed to such, which enabled the kids to remain in their schools that they called home from when they were young.  As a result, both parties understood that going to court was not an option.  A successful case!  From start to finish, we were able to break down for them the different routes to get divorced, the cause and effect scenarios inherent in both, and subsequently show them why MEDIATION was the better alternative to LITIGATION:

MEDIATION

8 sessions over 2 months

Quick & Efficient Process

$7200 – total both parties

$350 a session

Less Stress

No court dates

No time off from work

Flexible scheduling

Parties determine outcome

Win-Win Outcome

Both parties happy

Children spared turmoil

Parties create their OWN agreement

LITGIATION

1-3 years

Long & Drawn out

$10,000-$40,000 each

$375-$500 per hour

Stress & Anxiety

Numerous court dates

Missed work

Mandatory appointments

Judge determines outcome

Win-Lose Outcome

Both parties hurting

Children suffer emotionally

Statutory Guidelines bind the parties