Understanding the Differences Between Divorce Mediation and Divorce Litigation

Currently in Massachusetts if you file for divorce, you might be waiting for a while to get a court date based on the pandemic. But by using a divorce mediator to mediate your divorce, the process could take a lot less time and at a fraction of the price.

In divorce mediation you are in a private setting… usually a mediator’s office or by Zoom. In a contested divorce you are in the courtroom, Zoom hearings or otherwise, and it is a lengthier process which could take up to 14 months (or more) sometimes. A mediated divorce can be completed in a matter of weeks.

Amaral and Associates P.C. has a divorce mediation program called “FIT Divorce Mediation,” which stands for fast, inexpensive and thorough, and costs $1,500 per spouse. The process starts begins with the two parties coming into the office (or meeting via Zoom) and meeting with Attorney Edward L. Amaral, Jr or his associate, Talia Simonds. At that time, if the parties feel comfortable, they can sign a fee agreement and can start their first mediation session or schedule the same for the near future.

During the first mediation session, the parties will be walked through all the issues that pertain to their case, including, but not limited to, custody, parenting plans, child support, alimony, medical and life insurance, education of children, tax issues and the division of assets and the division of liabilities.

After an agreement is reached, or office will draft the following for further discussion and execution by the parties:

● The Divorce Agreement.
● Financial Statements; and the
● Joint Petition for Divorce and the entire divorce filing.

The face- to- face meeting time usually takes three hours or less. The remainder of the time is spent preparing the paperwork. Then a court date is set for 6-8 weeks out (or longer) and the two parties appear before a judge, by Zoom or otherwise, for a short hearing.

In a Litigated or Contested Divorce, one party files a Complaint for Divorce and the other spouse has twenty days to file an Answer. The parties then begin a lengthy discovery period which involves the exchange of financial information followed by a meeting with counsel and the parties in what is referred to as a Four-Way Conference. Motions for Temporary Orders are also usually filed also requiring court hearings and then a Pre-trial hearing is eventually scheduled after six months or so. Further Pre-Trial hearings may be required together with Status Conference hearings. If a case still cannot be settled, then a trial will be necessary.

If you or someone you know are thinking about getting a divorce and reside in Massachusetts, please call Amaral & Associates, P.C. at (617) 539-1010 or visit us at www.Amarallaw.com for information about what your next steps should be and whether or not mediation or a traditional divorce is the best option for you.

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