What if Mediation or Settlement Efforts Fail?

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jan 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

If you are considering divorce, you have likely been told or reminded that an amicable resolution can save you and your spouse time and money. Rather than going to court, you can work out a settlement agreement or head to mediation, arbitration or another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Unfortunately, even couples with the best intentions may not be able to come to an agreement.  In some cases, an attempt to settle could exacerbate the problems making it even more difficult to come to an agreement in the future.

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When settlement or mediation fails—what is next? Our Birmingham divorce attorneysunderstand the frustration that comes with working towards a divorce settlement. We also know that for many couples, the attempt to work towards an agreement early on was made in good faith, but one or both parties may now find the terms untenable or unworkable. When facing a legal dispute during the divorce, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations. You also want to best position yourself to secure your future legal rights and financial interests.

If you filed for divorce or you were the one who initiated the separation, you may have wrongly assumed that your partner was on board. Residual feelings of anger, resentment and confusion will often make an appearance during the settlement process. It is possible to wrongly assume that your former spouse is looking to make things easy, split everything down the middle, or come to a reasonable custody solution. Whether you are entering mediation or your mediation has already failed, never assume the position that your former spouse will take on these issues. Every situation is unique and the demands made during divorce can be unpredictable.

Here are some issues that may come up during the settlement or mediation process. Remember that things may not always go as smooth as you planned, so it is important to be prepared for court:

Asset hiding and financial protection. One of the first processes during mediation is Mandatory Disclosure and the preparation of Financial Affidavits. Even if there are no surprises during this part of the proceeding, parties will often start to stake their claim early on. Parties who live apart after separation could begin to hide money or start spending money recklessly before the divorce is finalized. Financial separation early on can reduce the potential for long-term financial damage.

Dating during mediation or settlement. The mediation process can also be complicated if one or both parties begin to date during the process. This can be painful and distracting and ultimately create resentments that get played out during the settlement process.

Strained relationship. The longer the settlement process is delayed, the more likely parties will grow apart. During this process, it is not unlikely that one or both will seek independent legal representation to ensure their personal interests are secured.

Parenting disputes. When parents are still married and working on custody agreements while trying to take care of children, things can go from bad to worse. You can devise a temporary Parenting Plan to help you establish responsibilities before a plan is finalized.

Even two rational parties may find that high emotions and fear of losing custody or assets can stir challenges and cause setbacks during mediation. When mediation efforts fail, both parties should be prepared for court.

Contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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