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Divorce Mediation

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process by which two individuals prioritize and articulate their individual desires.

They then work in collaboration with a professional mediator so that each party can get enough of what they need to agree to the terms of divorce.

How do you know if divorce mediation is right for you?

Divorce mediation is right for you if both you and your spouse have the intention to get a divorce or separation. It is helpful if the two of you can communicate respectfully regarding the issues, but it is not essential to mediate.

 

Typically, the mediation session will begin in a joint session where the mediator will review the guidelines of mediation, get factual information from both of you, and determine the issues on which you all agree and disagree.

 

When the disputed issues are identified the mediator will meet separately (caucus) with each of you. Being in a separate meeting with the mediator has its own level of confidentiality and allows each of you to speak freely without fear of triggering the other spouse.

If both you and your spouse are ready to start the process you can book an initial meeting now using my online calendar.

 

If your spouse is not emotionally or mentally ready to accept that you are going to move forward no matter what, then you should hire an attorney to initiate the legal process.

What are the advantages of family mediation?

Using mediation to resolve a family legal dispute can be very beneficial. Mediation tends to cost less money and take less time, so for practical reasons it’s often the best choice.

Mediation is confidential and less formal than litigation, so parties usually feel more comfortable speaking openly and honestly. Finally, mediation can provide custom resolutions and make it possible for both parties to walk away from the dispute satisfied with the outcome.

Is Family Mediation cheaper than using lawyers to handle a divorce?

It can be and for most people it is. This is because the process is less formal and spouses are directly involved in resolving their disputes. You are addressing your own needs in mediation with a mediator facilitating the process.

However, it is possible to have legal representation during mediation. This makes the process more expensive, but it’s still usually cheaper than a traditional litigated divorce.

If I already have an attorney, is it too late to try mediation?

Absolutely not. Lawyers work with clients involved in mediation all the time. Though mediation tends to be less aggressive than litigation, it can still be helpful to have a lawyer with you during the discussion.

It can be helpful to let the other party involved in the dispute know that you have legal representation. This way they can secure their own, or at least not be surprised or intimidated when you show up with a lawyer.

What if my partner or ex-partner is completely irrational and unmovable?

Mediation can still help, but it will take a very skilled mediator to make headway. In some cases, mediation is actually more beneficial when you’re dealing with an unwilling party. This is because the mediation process is less formal and allows everyone to share how they feel in a less-threatening environment than the courtroom.

Of course, there are always cases in which mediation just isn’t possible and your matter will require the assistance of the court.

What happens at the initial meeting?

At the initial meeting we are going to explain the guidelines for mediation and go over the process. We will discover what issues have been agreed on by the two of you and which issues need resolution.

Finally, we are going to discuss factual issues as it relates to assets, debts, income, and parenting issues. Each of you should leave the session more focused on how to proceed as well as having a homework assignment for gathering financial and other information to prepare for the next meeting.

How long does the initial meeting take and how much does it cost?

You should plan on two hours for the initial meeting. At the rate of $180 per hour (about half of my hourly rate as an attorney), the total meeting would cost $360.

If you cannot agree on who should pay then each of you are supposed to pay half.

Can child support payments be made directly between parents or do they have to be paid through the state?

Child support payments are usually made directly to the other parent, either by check or auto pay from your bank account. In some cases, the recipient prefers to have an income deduction order so that the support is withheld from the paycheck, sent to a child support registry, and then sent to the child support recipient.

If it is a direct pay situation, then whenever support is at least one month in arrears, the recipient can request an income deduction order.

What if We Can’t Agree on All Issues?

If you cannot agree on all the issues in the first mediation it may be because additional financial disclosures are needed, or additional time is needed to consider the options. Some issues require more than one mediation session. If there are issues that cannot be resolved in mediation, then litigation is needed.

When parties cannot make decisions for themselves, a judge will make decisions for them. One reason mediation is effective is because people would rather fashion results that address their needs than have a stranger (a judge) make decisions for them.

If we resolve all the issues, then how do we finalize the divorce?

The mediator will draft a settlement memo addressing all the issues that were resolved. If both parties sign it then it becomes a binding document. One spouse may hire an attorney to prepare documents that are needed to initiate and complete the legal process as an uncontested divorce.

Although one attorney cannot represent both spouses, it is possible for one attorney to create all the documents that are needed to initiate and complete the legal process. Of course, either spouse is entitled to have these documents reviewed by their own attorney and financial advisor prior to signing them.

Will I be left with a legally binding agreement in divorce mediation?

Yes. If you sign an agreement during mediation it will be binding. The agreement reached during mediation, once approved by the court, will become a court order like the one you would have following a litigated divorce. The difference is how you reached that agreement.

In mediation, parties are given more control over the outcome of their divorce. Agreement is usually with less animosity in mediation and parties often have an easier time abiding by the agreement because they each played a role in its creation.

When is divorce mediation not appropriate?

Both parties have to want the divorce, have to want to use mediation, and have to be ready to schedule the mediation. If one party does not want the divorce, then mediation is unlikely to get them to a place where they can make appropriate final decisions.

In addition, in an abusive relationship one party may exercise power and control over the other party creating an imbalance. Trained mediators will perceive this and will potentially terminate the mediation.