Divorce and Mediation in New Mexico
Mediation should be the first course of action.
Divorces are stressful enough and if there is a pathway to reach agreements between the parties without having to go to trial then the stress levels on everyone are likely to be lowered. The process of reaching these agreements is usually achieved through divorce mediation. The attorneys at of New Mexico Financial Law are committed to work to reach a mediated agreement between the parties. We are well versed in the law and protect our client’s rights and needs while still working toward a mediated agreement. It is not enough to be knowledgeable about the law – it is also important that the financial, emotional and safety concerns are resolved to our clients’ satisfaction. When appropriate we bring in financial, medical, and psychological advisers to work with our clients.
New Mexico Divorce Mediation
New Mexico Financial Law believes that mediation should be the first course of action and only resorts to litigation if mediation fails. It is the experience of the lawyers in Don Harris’ Law Firm that divorce mediation usually results in the best overall results for their clients. In New Mexico, the mediation process includes the submission of extensive information to the mediator by both sides, including counsel, prior to the initial meeting. Our firm works with our clients in identifying the information that is needed and properly preparing the documents that are supplied to opposing counsel and the mediator. We will also receive and review the documentation prepared by the opposing counsel. It is during this “discovery” period that we may call in financial experts, forensic CPAs, and other experts to properly review our and opposing counsel’s documents and prepare our final documents.
Once all of the documentation is prepared then the actual mediation meetings begin with the two principals, their legal representatives, and the mediator. It usually involves two or three sessions of mediation and the preparation of a final mediated document either in the form of an agreement or a proposed court order. The mediation process is by nature non-confrontational and non-adversarial resulting in more successful settlement since all parties are committed to the mediated settlement.
Divorce Mediation Justification
The following is a partial list of reasons New Mexico Financial Law recommends you try a mediated divorce settlement first –
- It costs less – Most of the issues and negotiations that occur during a Mediated Divorce are also present in a litigated divorce. However, assuming the same or similar outcome, the costs of trial preparation and participation can cause the costs to soar.
- Easier on the children – The worst aspect of a divorce for children is the strife and visible conflict between the parents. Children, regardless of age, are quick to pick up on even the smallest of discord. The divorce itself will be difficult if not traumatic enough for them, but they can heal knowing that their parents are working together to make adult decisions and have not put them in the middle. Equally important, after a less stressful divorce process, the children will be less likely to have reason to pit one parent against another.
- The settlement can be reached more quickly – During litigation there are many steps that involve the cooperation of the opposing side and with a highly adversarial divorce there are frequently “strategic or punitive” delays. Depositions and responses can take months to complete and court trial dockets are sometimes weeks or months after final documentation is collected and prepared. In a cooperative mediated approach both parties have incentives to complete the process more quickly.
- You have more control over the outcome and costs – In Divorce Mediation the couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions are made, when the divorce petition is filed, and what the terms of the divorce will be in the Marital Settlement Agreement. Each step is by agreement, in contrast to the adversarial process in which attorneys set disposition and court dates and judges, by necessity, make decisions with very limited time and information. In a divorce, frequently, time is money.
- Emotions can be managed – This is the least appreciated advantage to a mediated divorce. Many people simply want to be heard and understood in the divorce process. However, in an adversarial (litigated) process this can get out of control, as each person triggers anger and resentment in the other. The attorneys in the Law Firm of Don Harris can assist the parties in acknowledging feelings but not allowing feelings to control the decision-making process.
- Mediation builds on the positive – In mediation, both parties are encouraged to recognize the positive in the other person and to find common ground for agreement. In court, each side must emphasize the negative about the other person in order to “win” against the other. Especially when there will be future contact between the parties, such as in parenting, whatever goodwill remains between the parties should be preserved and not destroyed
If Mediation Fails
If mediation fails, you can still go to court. When people use divorce mediation, they do not give up their right to go to court. If you are not satisfied during the mediation process, you can stop at any time, proceed on with your attorney and have the judge decide the issues. What has occurred in mediation will remain confidential, so the parties can start fresh.
Attorney and Client – Hand-In-Hand
Divorce mediation, with the assistance of New Mexico Financial Law and our support team, we will make it easier on you. Your rights and needs are protected, the emotional involvement in a trial setting is avoided, and the way your marriage ends will significantly affect the way you approach your future. When you use mediation to help both of you communicate and make important decisions, it can be easier to move forward and accept the past, rather than feeling hurt and anger as a result of an expensive and divisive court battle.