At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we find that despite this, when the marriage ends, and the divorce is final, it often empowers each spouse to go in more productive directions in their lives. Divorce mediation is what we do, and we believe that if you educate yourself about the process itself, what divorce litigation is and is not, this relieves a great deal of stress associated with the unknown.
The legal term is not as onerous as it sounds, particularly if you are guided through it by a skilled legal advocate. In basic form, divorce mediation is the filing of a legal action by a spouse to obtain divorce (or a filing by former spouse for custody, parenting time, and/or child-support modification afterward). Each matter is resolved in one of two ways: by agreement or bench trial (decided by the trial-court judge), as there is no right to trial by jury in divorce litigation in Indiana.
In fact, most every case follows the same general legal course. Good lawyering may substantially shorten this mediation process or eliminate some of its final steps. As noted, a filing is first called a Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. After this, the other party may file a response, but this may not be necessary.
Sometimes a responsive pleading is necessary, and your advocate will discuss this with you. For example, we may advise a female client who is served with divorce papers to file a cross-petition for divorce in order to later obtain a name change (restore her maiden name). We, as effective advocates, help you look at the short-term legal picture, such as moving out of the marital residence, but are also focused on the big picture of where you want to be after the divorce is final.
After filing, each side gathers information from the other, or from certain third parties, through a process called discovery. A common form of discovery is a request sent to the other party to provide tax returns and income information. Third-party discovery is when there is a request for information sent to places such as a bank, school or doctor to obtain a child’s official records.
With our divorce mediation clients, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. focuses on the cost of obtaining this information through different methods, always considering the legal benefits. If we can get materials for you by making a telephone call to the other attorney, it may not make sense to spend the time and dollars to get it from the official place or source, such as a financial institution.
We believe that in most cases, it does not make sense to spend $1.00 to obtain a $.90 benefit, nor should a cookie-cutter litigation approach be taken. If we are your counsel, we will partner with you to make effective decisions with the information at hand, always understanding there is a profound emotional dimension at work — your future is at stake, and you are grieving the loss of the marriage.
At this point, with discovery completed, the case is nearing the point where it may be resolved by agreement or tried to the bench (before the judge). Typically, because of the high number of divorce-type cases pending in Indiana’s courts at any one given moment in time (about 40,000), courts usually require the parties to attend mediation. This is an extraordinary legal tool and concept.
Only in a small number of cases is divorce mediation unsuccessful. The parties then present their evidence to the trial court. The judge then decides the case and issues a written order.
A little more about mediation: it is a process by which a third attorney acts in a neutral fashion and helps the parties reach agreement. If properly prepared by counsels and if the parties are reasonable, a good mediator is more likely to resolve all issues, and the case settles.
The mediator then writes out the agreement, which is signed by the parties, filed with the trial court and concludes the matter. The parties will never see the inside of a courtroom and save thousands of dollars in trial costs. This is the optimal circumstance from our perspective in handling any divorce case.
More importantly, in the hundreds and hundreds of cases that we have handled over the years, we firmly believe in this process. Amazing things happen in the dynamic of divorce mediation. There are no “winners” or no “losers” in mediation, unlike what may occur with a trial, and the parties remain in control of their destinies.
The parties themselves agree to the terms to move on with life. Where children are involved, it is that much more important to minimize long-term animosity between the parties as co-parents, long after the divorce lawyers are out of the matter.
We hope you feel more informed about domestic litigation and divorce mediation and less stressed about the process itself. Education and information is a powerful way to limit these concerns. Yes, divorce is hard. However, with reasonable expectations and a skilled legal team, you will get past this difficult time in your life.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we encourage you to find a trusted divorce mediation and litigation advocate to partner with, a person with whom you can let your guard down and expose your vulnerable side, working to ensure divorce does not define or impair the rest of your life. This is our tested approach. Is it the right fit for you?
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