Fathers often feel as if they experience an inherent disadvantage in the family court system. For many years, fathers were often overlooked as parents, and mothers overwhelmingly won custody over their children. While the law may still seem to side with mothers in divorce, attitudes concerning fathers’ rights have shifted significantly in recent years. Now, modern fathers facing divorce proceedings have more support than ever before.
If you are a father bracing for divorce in the Midwest, it’s essential to know your rights and the legal options available to you for streamlining your divorce. One of the most popular methods for handling the divorce process today is mediation. All fathers should understand the benefits this form of alternative dispute resolution can offer.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Think of divorce mediation as a private settlement negotiation for divorce. Instead of letting your divorce unfold in court and allowing a judge to have the final say on every aspect of your divorce, mediation can allow you and your spouse to exercise more control over the outcome of your divorce. Mediation also saves both of you time and money. If you have any reservations about fairness in divorce litigation, mediation can assuage any doubts and help you reach a more personalized outcome for your divorce.
The main requirement for divorce mediation is that both spouses must be willing to undergo the process. If you and your spouse agree to participate, you can take full advantage of the benefits of divorce mediation. The two of you and your respective divorce lawyers will meet with a neutral mediator who will assist you in drafting your divorce agreement. You and your spouse will negotiate each aspect of your divorce, and the mediator will keep the conversation focused and productive. Most couples can complete divorce mediation in a fraction of the time divorce litigation usually requires.
Save Time and Money
One of the most reported financial concerns regarding divorce is the cost of legal representation. Most divorce attorneys charge their clients by the hour, so the more time they spend working on a case, the more expensive it is for the client. Mediation is not only less time-consuming than litigation but also more informal. You can choose to have your attorney beside you for some or all your mediation sessions. Since mediation takes less time than litigation, you will effectively minimize the cost of legal representation for your divorce.
Divorce is likely to take a significant financial toll, so saving money during the process is a great first step toward establishing the next phase of your life. Before agreeing to an attorney’s services, make sure you fully understand their billing policies so you know what to expect as your case unfolds.
Avoid Outdated Social Norms Commonly Present in Divorce Litigation
While most family court judges in the US have adopted more contemporary views of parenthood, some still hold outdated misconceptions, particularly the tropes of father as breadwinner and mother as caregiver. Most modern fathers facing divorce proceedings are terrified of losing custody of their children and simply want to keep being good fathers despite ending their marriages. Going to court for divorce and fighting for custody can be overwhelming, and it is easy for some fathers to feel disadvantaged with this route to divorce.
Mediation is private, more comfortable, and generally more relaxed than litigation. This atmosphere is typically more conducive to constructive divorce negotiations, and fathers are likely to feel more at ease in mediation. The close atmosphere also makes it easier for the father to make their case for custody in a compelling manner without facing any unjust scrutiny from the court.
Achieve More Personalized Results
One of the most important benefits of divorce mediation is the ability to exercise more direct control over the outcome of your divorce agreement. When your divorce is left in the hands of a judge, there is no guarantee they will give a divorcing father a fair consideration when awarding custody. Mediation does not allow divorcing parents to settle custody in any legally binding way, but the parents can negotiate a parenting plan that aligns with their needs and preferences.
You and your spouse could effectively create the framework of your custody determination by drafting a parenting plan. This would then need to go to a family court judge for final review and approval. In this situation, the judge only needs to ensure the plan meets the best interests of the divorcing parents’ children. It’s possible to have the parenting plan approved with little to no adjustment, leading to a much more agreeable set of custody terms than litigation would allow.
Resolve Disputes Quickly and Fairly
Even when divorcing parents are relatively agreeable toward one another, disputes are likely to arise during the divorce process that can significantly delay the finalization of the divorce. However, mediation offers a more expedient means of addressing these disputes than litigation. When you and your spouse reach any kind of impasse in negotiations, the mediator can propose various viable solutions that benefit both of you. Instead of enduring lengthy litigation to resolve these issues, it’s possible to address some disputes quickly and effectively through constructive private negotiation. It’s also possible to take an “a la carte” approach to mediation, settling what you can through alternative dispute resolution before moving to litigation to handle the rest of the issues.
Why You Need Reliable Legal Counsel
No matter how you choose to handle your divorce, the most important asset you can have on your side during a divorce case is a reliable and experienced attorney. Your legal team can help you make informed decisions about your legal options, assist you in drafting a compelling case for custody, and guide you through the various stages of your divorce case. Whether you proceed to trial or take advantage of alternative dispute resolution, a skilled attorney can help.
Fathers should not feel disadvantaged in family court, and the right attorney can help in this regard. If you are concerned about your impending divorce and believe that mediation could offer substantial benefits to your situation, it’s important to consult a fathers’ rights attorney as soon as possible.