When couples with significant assets decide to get divorced, it can become a costly and protracted proceeding. In New Jersey, for example, the average cost for divorce attorney fees ranges between $12,500 and $14,500. But high net worth couples are not average, they have many unique issues that take more time to resolve, and their legal fees are often much higher.
With so much property and assets at stake, there is the potential for a long and drawn out court battle. And before everything is said and done, you could find that a substantial portion of your net worth is eaten up in legal fees. It doesn’t have to be this way, however.
There are better alternatives these days for high net worth couples, and divorce mediation is an increasingly preferred method. Through mediation, a couple can resolve all of their issues outside of court, so it officially becomes an uncontested divorce. This is not to say that there are no issues along the way, it is just that the couple chooses to work them out on their own with the help and guidance of a professional, third-party divorce mediator.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce mediation is a cooperative approach that can be done in a live setting or virtually, whatever the spouses are most comfortable with. The spouses meet with the mediator, who is there to facilitate the discussion and guide the conversation toward a civil and workable resolution.
During the mediation process, outside specialists can be brought in to help deal with various issues in which they have in-depth expertise. For example, high net worth couples often require the assistance of CPAs, business appraisers, real estate experts, and other financial specialists for the various types of property and assets that need to be divided.
As an aside, at AMS, we have in-house experts that can be brought in when needed to help ensure a seamless process from start to finish. These professionals are not only experienced in their area of expertise but they also have experience in dealing with mediating parties. Very different from professionals who only work with attorneys for litigated divorces.
All in all, the divorce mediation process can be completed in as soon as a couple of months or maybe a little longer, depending on the complexity of your situation and the time it takes to resolve everything. Either way, this is significantly less time than it would take to go through traditional divorce litigation.
How High Net Worth Couples Can Benefit from Divorce Mediation
As we have touched on previously, an uncontested divorce that is done through mediation can save high net worth couples tens of thousands of dollars or more in legal costs, and the couple can complete their divorce in a fraction of the time it would take for the process to go through court. These are not the only benefits of mediation, however. There are several others as well, including:
- Cooperative Environment: Because divorce mediation is done in a collaborative setting, there is a greater likelihood of reaching an satisfactory agreement. The process also allows you to avoid what could be a highly contentious court battle with the potential to foster lasting bitterness between the spouses. The ability to preserve delicate family relationships is especially important if there are children involved.
- Confidential Process: Mediation sessions are held confidentially, and nothing that is discussed ever becomes part of the public court record. This allows participants to speak more freely knowing their words will not be held against them later on, and for high net worth couples, it also helps ensure that no part of their divorce proceeding ever ends up in the media.
- Flexible Settlements: Family courts tend to take more of a cookie-cutter approach to divorce settlements, one of the main reasons being that they simply do not have time to delve too deeply into each individual case. As a result, divorced couples can end up with a final settlement that no one is happy with. Divorce mediation is different. During mediation, you can spend as much time as you need to on the issues that matter most, and you and your spouse have the freedom and flexibility to get creative and come up with win-win resolutions that work for everyone.
- More Control over the Process: At the end of the day, the participants are the ones who must agree to any settlement that is produced during divorce mediation. The process is entirely voluntary, and nothing can be imposed on either of the spouses against their will. This gives the spouses a large amount of control over the process, and it also makes it more likely that they will take ownership of what is agreed to and follow through on all of their obligations.