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Property Division Without the Drama: How Mediation Can Make Divorce Smoother and More Equitable

Date Posted: October 13, 2023 12:50 am

Property Division Without the Drama: How Mediation Can Make Divorce Smoother and More Equitable


Divorce is burdensome and emotionally taxing. Couples ending their marriage must undergo the complex marital property division process as if they already do not suffer enough. Disputes arising from property division often lead to prolonged legal battles, additional emotional stress, and considerable costs. Luckily, there is a solution.

Mediation, an alternative process involving a neutral third party, provides a unique approach focusing on amicable negotiation, flexibility, and confidentiality. As such, it allows parties to find mutually beneficial and equitable solutions for their assets and debts division.

This article will explore how mediation can transform marital property division from a highly contested court confrontation to a smooth and friendly problem-solving experience. Stay tuned!

Mediation Strategies to Make Marital Property Division More Equitable

Florida marital property division rules (the Florida Statute 61.075) mandate equitable distribution, meaning the judge will divide the property equally unless specific circumstances justify unequal distribution. The factors courts consider when deciding the case include the contribution to the marriage, the economic circumstances, the duration of the matrimony, the desirability of retaining the marital home, intentional waste or destruction of marital assets, etc.

While it acknowledges these statutory factors, mediation has specific strategies that enable smooth and equitable distribution, making its solutions far more inclusive and mutually acceptable than the court-imposed decisions. Here are the most effective:

1. Encouraging Open Communication

In contrast to the court setting, where each party works on ways to deceive the other side by strategizing about disclosure scope and dynamics, mediation promotes open communication and constructive dialogue. The mediation’s openness and flexibility about property-related issues help parties understand different perspectives, interests, and underlying motivations regarding the marital assets division.

2. Providing Customized Solutions

Instead of being subject to court-procured one-size-fits-all solutions, parties engaging in mediation can craft outcomes that fit their unique circumstances. Although courts consider various factors when deciding on property division, the adversarial litigation concept does not allow for achieving fair and just results. On the other hand, mediation allows parties to explore various options until they come up with mutually beneficial outcomes. Marital property is unlike other property; it triggers memories and profound emotions. Its division should not be an imposed solution. Mediators know that and work with the parties to resolve the dispute amicably and find a workable way out for everyone involved.

3. Identifying Marital and Separate Property

Identifying marital property is a starting point for all successful dispute resolutions. You and your spouse must distinguish between the property you owed before the marriage (inheritance, gifts, etc.) and the property you acquired during the matrimony. Making a list of joint property is vital because only marital property is subject to division, regardless of the dispute resolution you choose. In litigation, parties and their attorneys take opposite roles and deploy adversarial strategies concerning property division. Contrary to that, mediators work with financial specialists to help spouses accurately identify joint property and negotiate mutually acceptable ways of sharing it.

4. Focusing on Interests, Not Positions

All disputing parties initially stand in the opposite position. The difference between litigation and litigation is that, in a court setting, parties further divide the gap between them. Conversely, mediation encourages parties to focus on their interests instead of their initial positions. That means that understanding underlying motivations is vital for reaching mutually satisfying outcomes. For example, when you realize that your spouse wants to keep the family home because of the children, you are less likely to contest their stance and more likely to agree on creative property division terms.

5. Seeking Common Ground, Not Points of Leverage

5. Seeking Common Ground, Not Points of Leverage

Seeking common ground instead of points of leverage is another area where mediation differs from litigation. Parties and their attorneys constantly try to identify weak points and use them as leverage against the other side. If one spouse has an emotional attachment to specific items (for example, a piece of artwork), the other party will likely use that as leverage to gain an advantage. They will insist on that item until the opposite side lets go of another, more valuable asset. Mediation is not like that. It focuses on finding common ground instead of blackmailing. Each party is free to identify the property they feel strongly about. The mediator then seeks ways to accommodate both parties through amicable negotiations so that everyone gets what they want and leaves the negotiation table with a sense of accomplishment.

6. Relationships

Dealing with property-related matters always comes with a degree of contention. In addition to divorce’s inherent emotional challenges, marital property division elevates the stress to another level. The adversarial litigation approach usually further strains the relationships. Mediators understand the challenges involved in the property division process. To address them, they emphasize collaboration and foster a sense of cooperation and respect between the spouses. You will divide property once and for all, but as parents, you must maintain a functional relationship for the rest of your lives. Mediation sets a positive tone for future interactions while dealing with property-related issues.

7. Emphasizing Fairness

Mediation is all about fairness, impartiality, and unbiased treatment. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, keeping the interests of both parties in mind and ensuring they achieve balanced property division. Such an approach acknowledges the needs and interests of each spouse as an essential prerequisite for fair and just dispute resolution.

Case Study: How David and Emily Found Compromise Through Mediation

David and Emily are a couple residing in Martin County, Florida. They initiated divorce after being married for 15 years, during which period they accumulated significant assets (a house, cars, investments, etc.) 

Hoping to avoid a contentious court process, they opted for mediation to handle property division. As a first step, they hired a certified Florida mediator experienced in martial property division cases. After having an initial meeting with them, the mediator encouraged them to make a comprehensive list of their assets and liabilities, categorizing them as joint and separate property.

During multiple mediation sessions that ensued, where they engaged in open communication and negotiation, David and Emily discussed their preferences and priorities regarding marital property, proposing ways to divide it. The mediator (together with financial specialists) helped them produce different scenarios for property division, keeping the interests of both parties in mind.

Finally, they drafted a comprehensive property division agreement detailing how to divide assets, debts, and liabilities. They both reviewed and signed it, submitting it for court approval.

David and Emily’s example shows how mediation can help Florida couples divide marital property while avoiding lengthy, costly, and adversarial court processes.

Key Takeaways

  • In marital property division, litigation cannot offer an effective solution. Instead of further straining their relationship through an adversarial process, divorcing couples should engage in mediation;
  • As an alternative method, mediation provides strategies that help parties achieve less stressful and more equitable property division;
  • Mediators are impartial professionals who keep the interests of both parties in mind during the property division process, deploying strategies such as open communication,  providing customized solutions, identifying joint property, focusing on needs and interests, finding common ground instead of leverage, preserving relationships, and emphasizing fairness.
Expert Guidance for Equitable Property Division: Reach Out to Ann Goade

Expert Guidance for Equitable Property Division: Reach Out to Ann Goade

Divorce is hard, but choosing mediation for property division can significantly reduce stress and conflict.

Mediators foster open communication, explore creative solutions, focus on interests, find common ground, and do everything they can to maintain respect, preserve relationships, and achieve smoother and more equitable property division.

In Florida, where spouses divorce more frequently than elsewhere, Ann Goade has empowered divorcing couples to take control of their future since 1993. As a certified mediator, she helps parties find solutions that best suit their needs and interests, leading them to an amicable transition into post-divorce life.

Streamline your property division and secure your financial future by seeking personal guidance from Ann Goade. She will assist you in finding common ground by focusing on both parties’ needs and individual preferences.

Ready to divide property amicably? Call (772) 288-7275 or contact us via e-mail at info@anngoade.com today to schedule your consultation.

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