Divorce Mediation: An Integral Part of Legal Cover
Over the course of history, hundreds of songs have been written about marriage or about hopeful lovers popping the question. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always play out like a classic love ballad. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your marriage will end in divorce.
If this happens to you, and even if your breakup is amicable, you’ll need legal representation to protect yourself and your assets. But because the legalities of getting married are rarely given as much attention as kissing the bride or cutting the cake, you might not have accounted for this process.
To ensure you manage this chapter of your life appropriately, you’ll need legal cover for family mediation or divorce medication. Here’s what this will involve.
What is the purpose of mediation in divorces?
According to Statistics SA, the average age when South Africans marry has increased over time, with today’s grooms getting married at 37 and brides at 33. The median age of divorce for men and women is 45 and 41 years respectively and, as of 2020, over half of these divorces involve children aged 18 and under.
The process of untangling your financial and familial commitments can be complex and costly. While seeking advice from divorced friends and family members can prepare you, you'll discover that finding a solution that works for everyone requires external expertise. This is where divorce mediation comes in.
In a typical divorce scenario, one party initiates divorce proceedings via a lawyer, forcing the other partner to follow suit. The case will enter the court system. Once this happens, you’re at the court’s mercy until a winner is awarded. You won’t be able to control when the litigation takes place. You can also expect to fork over a lot of money even if the court doesn’t find in your favour.
During divorce mediation, both parties can work together to end the relationship legally, dividing their assets and creating custody arrangements at their own pace and for a lower cost.
It’s a good way to keep an already fragile situation from becoming into something more complex and painful for everyone involved.
What is the divorce mediation process?
Once you and your partner have decided that you require divorce mediation services, your first step will be to hire a neutral third party in the form of a lawyer and mediator to oversee your negotiations and create a joint divorce document.
These mediators are often lawyers but they can also be trained and accredited professionals with experience in dealing with issues regarding law, psychology and social work. While they can advise you on the legalities of your particular situation, they won’t instruct either party on what they must or should do. Instead, they help both groups come to a mutually beneficial custody, asset division or maintenance arrangement. Unlike litigation, this process can take as long as you need it to and it won't take place in a court setting, which can help set everyone involved at ease.
Common divorce mediation questions
How much does divorce mediation cost in South Africa?
You can expect to pay a set daily fee for your mediator, with the exact amount dictated by a government-mandated fixed tariff which is influenced by their seniority or experience level. Both parties must equally contribute to this fee and it must be paid before the divorce mediation advice takes place.
Do I still need a lawyer if we are using divorce mediation?
If you’re struggling to decide how to draft an agreement or what wording to use, contacting a divorce lawyer can help. However, keep in mind that you and your partner will still need to work on the agreement together before its finalised and legally binding.
When does the mediation start and how long does it last?
Unlike court dates, you can usually set your own mediation meeting times and dates. How long this will take will vary dramatically. What is sure is that it won’t take as long as divorce litigation proceeding, which can take years to complete.
Do you need mediation before divorce?
The South African legal system strongly recommends that couples seek out mediation instead of litigation — unless the situation has escalated and there is a concern over the behaviour of one of the spouses in question. Litigation is best reserved for instances where the relationship has broken down irrevocably and normal communication has become impossible.
Where to get divorce family mediation cover in South Africa?
Divorce might not be anyone’s desired outcome, but it happens and happens often. Now that you know more about the purpose of mediation in divorce, the best gift you can give yourself is the assurance that, should you end up needing legal help, it will literally be a phone call or email away.
Auto & General’s Legal Cover offers basic legal protection as well as an optional mediation benefit and legal benefit. Not only can this help you mediate your divorce, but it can also help you in many other legal situations you could face in future. This includes providing you with help to draft legal agreements and tax returns and offering you advice on civil and labour-related matters. Find out more about our legal benefits here, and then contact us for a personalised quote.