Every divorce is a difficult time for all involved – the spouses, children, friends and extended family. Issues must be dealt with which are both complex and emotional. Having your divorce mediated, rather than litigating it in court, can make the experience much more bearable. This can be particularly true for high-asset couples.
The potential problem of equitable distribution
Since Georgia is an equitable distribution state, one of the first things a divorce court will do is attempt to classify all of the couple’s assets as either marital or separate property. Separate property is any asset owned entirely by one spouse and will remain with that spouse following the divorce. Marital property, however, will be divided between the spouses in an equitable manner.
Note that ‘equitable’ is not the same thing as ‘equal’. The court will distribute the property in the way it determines is most fair, based upon the specific circumstances of your marriage and divorce. The problem is that, just because the court considers the distribution fair, this does not mean the couple will too. Either or both spouses may disagree with the court’s decision and be unsatisfied with the outcome.
How does mediation overcome this problem?
For the couple that can still communicate effectively and work together, mediation means they control the fate of their own divorce, including property division. Couples with a high net worth often have many and varied assets which other couples do not – such as business interests, stocks and real estate. This fact complicates the court’s role of distributing the assets fairly and increases the chances of an unsatisfying result.
With mediation, the couple chooses how their assets are distributed. They know those assets better than the court, or anyone else, and they know how certain assets can be more or less important to one or the other spouse. Mediation empowers them to distribute their property in a way which they deem fair, rather than the court. This helps to ensure that the final divorce decree reflects their own wishes, generating a level of satisfaction with the result which no court can match.