This week on The Couples Corner we had the pleasure to chat with Leisa Wintz, a family law attorney, about mediation as an option for couples who wish to divorce. Leisa’s background is unique in that she holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and worked as a mediator prior to becoming an attorney. Although it’s never pleasant to reach the conclusion that a marriage has come to end, the terms on which a couple separates can make a world of difference. Leisa discusses what mediation is and questions to ask if mediation is something you’re considering as you separate from your spouse.
It’s important to note that the information Leisa shares is specific to the state of Florida; however, you can gain some insight on mediation and if you have specific questions regarding your state we recommend you consult an attorney in your state.
Leisa shares that divorce through mediation is a common question couples have for her, mostly because individuals may not want a judge to make decisions about the situation. There are times when mediation will be the best choice and also not the best choice for couples. We all have preconceived notions of what we think divorce looks like; if you’re curious about your options, most lawyers will offer a free phone consultation and if you don’t like the first attorney you speak with, hang up and call another. Your lawyer should be your partner in this process and having a like minded lawyer who is on the same page as you will be your best asset. Mediation will consist of a third party, neutral individual who will help negotiate the terms of the separation. As Leisa says, in all good compromises, you’ve got to give up a something and if one person walks out of mediation feeling like he/she got everything he/she wanted, something went wrong.
For some couples, they want the divorce to amicable. Additionally, mediation is required in the state of Florida if there are children involved and you can’t settle. While it’s not required that you reach an agreement in mediation, it is required that you attend.One thing Leisa points out is that the results of a mediation will depend one two things: your mediator, and how nice you (or your spouse) want to be in the process. Should you take a lawyer with you to mediation?
That all depends. It’s not always necessary to bring a lawyer with you to mediation but Leisa recommends knowing yourself and knowing how you respond in situations. If you’re the type of person who can live with a decision and move on, maybe you don’t need a lawyer. If you’d rather have a very clear understanding of the how assets are divided and know what you’re entitled to, it may be worth having a lawyer there. It’s also important to remember that while many couples may start off with good intentions, things can change as the divorce progresses and it’s important to be prepared. If you are contemplating divorce there are many things to consider. The emotional, legal and financial aspects of divorce can be difficult on all involved. There is also the option of Collaborative Divorce which we share on another episode of The Couples Corner.