Divorcing couples throughout the Springfield, MO, area and across the United States choose mediation more frequently than ever before when handling their divorce proceedings. In most cases, divorce mediation provides both spouses with an expedient and effective alternative to typical divorce litigation, allowing both of them to move on with their lives and incur fewer legal expenses than they could expect in protracted court cases.
The mediation process is simple in theory, and while it can provide several advantages over litigation, it is not a completely foolproof way to ensure an entirely stress-free divorce experience. Mediation can only work when both spouses are willing to negotiate with one another. In addition, it is impossible to solve many divorce-related issues through mediation due to Missouri state statutes. Suppose you are concerned about whether you can expect your divorce mediation experience to be successful. In that case, it’s vital to know what happens when divorce mediation doesn’t work out the way you expected.
What Can’t Be Solved Through Divorce Mediation?
Missouri’s divorce statutes allow divorcing spouses to complete their divorces utilizing private mediation; a court case is only essential when one of the spouses is entirely unwilling to compromise in mediation, or there are some issues that a divorcing couple cannot settle through mediation. Namely, it is impossible to reach any firm conclusions on child support or child custody through mediation. Therefore, the Missouri family court must ensure that any custody and support agreement ordered in the state suits the best interests of the children the order will affect.
If you are divorcing and have children in Springfield, MO, you can still take advantage of divorce mediation to a considerable extent, but you and your spouse will need to go to court to settle custody and support for your children. It’s possible to negotiate your preferred custody and support terms in mediation and create a proposal for a parenting plan, but you will ultimately need to submit this proposal to a Springfield, MO, family court judge and obtain their approval for the order to take legal effect. You and your spouse can essentially make your expectations clear and possibly even develop a proposed framework for your custody agreement. The property division proceedings you complete in mediation can also help both of you determine your child support obligations under Missouri state law. These steps will significantly speed up the timeframe of completing your child custody and support determination in litigation.
In most divorce cases, a couple can use divorce mediation to settle property division, alimony and spousal support, and various other elements of their divorce. Aside from child custody and child support, if the couple cannot reach agreeable terms on any other aspect of their divorce, they can table the issue, for the time being, work through their other divorce issues in mediation, and then proceed to litigation to have a judge deliver a ruling on their remaining divorce-related issues.
What Happens If My Spouse Refuses Divorce Mediation?
Unfortunately, not every divorcing couple ends their marriage on amicable terms. Some divorce cases are messy and involve deeply personal issues. It’s relatively common for divorcing spouses to feel completely unwilling to cooperate during the divorce process out of spite. However, this harms both parties and rarely provides the intended effect. Mediation suits the best interests of both spouses, even if they are entirely incapable of managing a civil discussion for any length of time. Divorcing spouses in Springfield, MO, must put their personal issues aside and focus on the practical side of their divorce to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation that may not provide the results they want to see.
Mediation’s only actual prerequisite is that both spouses must be willing to participate in the process. Even if both spouses are not entirely sure they want to participate in the process, it is possible to complete mediation without face-to-face contact. Some divorcing couples have their respective Springfield, MO, family law attorneys manage negotiations on their behalf, acting as proxies and communicating throughout the mediation process until the couple reaches agreeable terms.
While there are many possible ways to work around one or both spouses’ unwillingness to negotiate in person, ultimately, a divorcing couple may be compelled into divorce litigation one way or another. Perhaps the couple agreed to mediate and finalized every aspect of their divorce aside from child custody and child support. It’s also possible that they settled some issues with mediated terms but reached an impasse on another aspect of the divorce. Some couples simply do not generate any results in mediation and are compelled to undergo litigation.
What to Expect in Post-Mediation Divorce Litigation
If you must begin litigation after completing any measure of divorce mediation, this does not necessarily mean that mediation has failed. Taking advantage of mediation to handle as much of your divorce as possible before moving to litigation significantly streamlines your divorce process. You and your spouse can effectively eliminate the need to litigate whatever issues you managed to cover in your mediation sessions. Depending on the complexity of your divorce, this could ultimately result in saving thousands of dollars in legal fees and completing your divorce several weeks or months earlier than litigation would have allowed.
Regardless of what your divorce case entails, you need a reliable Springfield, MO, divorce attorney on your side to navigate your proceedings effectively. A good divorce attorney will encourage their client to take full advantage of the benefits of divorce mediation, even when their client and their spouse seem unable to compromise on much of anything. In addition, your attorney should guide you through your divorce mediation sessions and help you address any issues that you cannot settle under the supervision of your chosen mediator.
If you must litigate any measure of your divorce case, you can rely on your Springfield, MO, divorce lawyer to represent you in these proceedings and provide meticulous representation through each stage of your case. When you are unsure of the best approach to your divorce, or if you are concerned about minimizing the time you must spend in divorce litigation, it’s best to reach out to an experienced Springfield, MO, divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.