Worthy Asks: Were you prepared for mediation or litigation?

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Sharri Freedman

By Sharri Freedman | Mar 17th, 2020

We have been getting to know the diverse women of our Facebook group, Worthy Women and Divorce, by asking them questions about their divorce experiences. We hear from all kinds of women of different backgrounds to understand from their personal stories how we can help each other and ourselves through this process and journey. These women have insightful pieces of advice that many can relate to and learn from. Divorce is a difficult journey, especially when dealing with litigation and mediation so we asked the worthy women,  do you believe you were prepared for mediation or litigation? If so, how did you prepare? If not, what do you wish you had known? 

Pressures from Mediator 

Mediation should be a vehicle to work together, not tear one another down but a third party also brings another perspective that can complicate things. Kelli M. expressed how she had not thought about the influences that came with having a mediator:

“I did not anticipate the pressure that is put on from the mediator. There was a criminal charge on my husband that was used as the bargaining tool. I did not think that was right and cried most of the day. We ended up with a failed mediation. We had a trial and the judge decided everything. ”  

Mediation is a tool that should allow for a neutral perspective from a third party but one should always be prepared for certain pressures and perspectives that come with an outside view. 

Hire an Attorney 

Divorce can be overwhelming and emotional, that is why it is a good idea to seek out expert resources you need in order to make the best decisions for you and your family. Every state has different regulations and laws that come with litigation and mediation so it is best to talk to someone with experience. Going to a lawyer does not mean going to war, it is just a precaution to prepare you for what is ahead. 

Paralegal and one of Worthy’s women, Annette L. says, “If there is any hint of opposition by your ex, then hire an attorney who has your best interest at heart, so that you can have a fair and equitable distribution. If it is easy for both of you to separate assets, then I suggest you know all of them and the value of each; and if there is child support or alimony involved, that you know what you can start with and come down if need be. That is the whole thing behind mediation. We did not have to go through the litigation and courtroom procedure because we settled everything at mediation. If I did not have an attorney, it would not have gone that way. So depending on your state and how they handle mediation, go that route first before you head into a courtroom because once you do, it can get ugly. I have not dealt first hand with litigation, but I see it all the time and one side digs their heels in (so to speak) and then it takes a lot of time and money (if you have an attorney) and you will end up with basically what was offered in mediation.”

Research & Financial Records 

Particularly during litigation, doing your research and understanding what financial documents are relevant can help things run smoothly. As Angela A. explains, “I felt prepared because of all my anxiety-driven internet legal research. I had a lawyer, but it reassured me to do my own research. Also, before I left, I grabbed copies of all the financial records I could.” Gathering financial documents can be a precaution to help you when the other partner refuses to be reasonable.

Coping with the anxiety 

Unfortunately, anxiety is more common than not when going through a divorce and can be heightened when having to go through litigation. Many women have their own ways of coping like meditation, art, exercise and even something as simple as listening to music. Angela shared “Music was my therapy, aside from the compulsive legal research. I found a lot of catharsis singing along to angry rock, and healing with songs that inspired me. Probably my most played song (The Light by Disturbed), the lyrics blew me away. Unpacking my worst memories helped me heal, and the song describes the process perfectly. And then there was my court date anthem, You are going down by Sick Puppies.” 

Sharri Freedman

Sharri Freedman

Sharri Freedman is a family law attorney and divorce coach based in Maryland who specializes in helping women whose world has been turned upside down by divorce.


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