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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Mayer

A Smarter Way to Say Goodbye

There are many reasons why a divorce or family matter can lead to hiring attorneys or ending up in court, but these shouldn’t necessarily be your first steps. There’s mediation. What is mediation? Think of it as an alternative to going to court. The mediators at our clinic are neutral, conflict resolution-trained attorneys that help you resolve a dispute in a professional and a less confrontational manner as opposed to a court-mandated solution that may not work for either of the parties.

Mediation covers a broad array conflicts, but the service at the Mediation Clinic of Louisiana is commonly used for disputes involving divorce, child support/custody, and property. Why use mediation? There are many reasons to seek mediation, the biggest being savings on time and money. Why use our mediators? Our mediators are all practicing attorneys who’s primary area of practice is high-conflict family law cases. They are uniquely qualified to help you resolve the most personal…and important…areas of your life.

Can you, or should you, still have an attorney present for mediation? Of course! Having someone educated in the law is a welcome addition to any mediation. However, it is certainly not required. Many parties are successful at mediation without hiring attorneys or without their attorneys being present. The important thing is that the parties feel comfortable. Usually, each party will hire their own attorneys who will negotiate on their behalf. Mediation doesn’t necessarily involve this step, although we welcome attorneys to the mediation process. The goal of mediation is to arrive at agreements that work for the parties and their children.

According to the American Psychological Association, at least 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. If there bad feelings arise between both parties, expect divorce proceedings to take months, perhaps years. Before automatically resorting to hiring an attorney or going to court, first consider these statistics.

Louisiana courts see thousands of new cases each year. Add those to the cases to the load that judges are required to hear. The East Baton Rouge Family Court, which is the state’s only stand-alone family court and handles cases involving divorce, custody disputes, spousal support, community property matters, among other types of cases. The court has four judges. In 2016, the court received 4,700 new filings, according to an annual report from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars, too. The average Louisiana divorce costs anywhere in between $20,000 to $30,000 in legal fees for each person alone.

One thing you should know about civil matters in Louisiana — it can be a mixed bag. Where criminal law is firmly guided by precedence established by a single case, judges in the Pelican State have the discretion to rule based on their own interpretation of the law. To understand the implications of this would require either a law degree of something pretty close. Also consider this also: In Louisiana you’re not guaranteed when it comes to divorce proceedings, child support, or custody disputes. These are reasons for strongly considering mediation.

Will mediation add to the cost of our divorce?

Mediated divorces are only a fraction of the cost of traditional divorces. The best part is that the cost is completely within the control of the two parties.

What if I change my mind and want to go to court?

It is never too late. Mediation is a completely voluntary process. Either party is free to leave at any time. Everything discussed is confidential and the mediator cannot be called to testify.

Perhaps the biggest reason for trying mediation is the emotional toll. Our goal is to provide not only a cost effective experience, but a less confrontational one too. We meet in a warm and friendly setting giving everyone a chance to be comfortable. A normal mediation is typically complete within one, two, three, or four-hour long sessions. If agreeable, you leave with a written settlement in hand.

The best part is that you’re in control of the decision making. We look forward to your services.

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