- What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral and impartial third person, known as the mediator, acts to assist with the resolution of a dispute. It is an informal and non-adversarial process intended to help parties reach an agreement acceptable to them both.
- Why mediate divorce issues?
The quick answer: To save money and remain in complete control of the issues that will impact you and your children.
Deciding to get divorced is a difficult decision. Once the decision is made, the parties are faced with assuring their individual financial security, dividing their assets and debts, and putting in place a parenting plan for their children.
Money is often tight, as the income(s) used to support one household now must be stretched to support two households. Given this financial strain there is rarely sufficient funds for either spouse to retain counsel, especially since the majority of family law attorneys require a non-refundable retainer of at least $2,500, and often charge between $300 and $400 an hour for their services. Rather than spending their children’s college fund or using their savings or retirement funds, couples can usually mediate their divorce issues for the cost of the initial non-refundable retainer.
In addition to saving money, mediation also gives couples more control over the issues which will have long-term implications for them. Litigation is risky and once you step into court you have agreed to surrender all control of these issues to a judge. The judge, who will be making these life altering decisions, usually has limited knowledge about each of the parties or the children involved in the divorce. On the other hand, if you mediate your divorce issues, the two of you remain in control of these life altering decisions. It is better to compromise and reach an agreement you both can live with, than take a chance and have a judge make a decision that is totally unacceptable to one or both of you.
- What is my role as the mediator?
My role as the mediator is to assist you both in exploring different alternatives, and to attempt to reduce any obstacles to communication so that the two of you can reach an agreement on all or at least some of your divorce issues. The ultimate decision-making authority, however, rests solely with the two of you. Mediation is not binding and the mediator cannot decide any aspect of your dispute. Mediation is consensual and either of you can terminate mediation at anytime.
- Is mediation confidential?
Mediation is a confidential process and except, in limited situations, what we discuss in mediation will not be disclosed to the court or any third-party. In fact, if you wish, during the mediation you can speak to us outside of the presence of the other party and we are bound not to disclose what we discussed, unless you specifically give us permission to do so.
- What if we don’t agree?
Even if you don’t agree on everything, hopefully you will be able to narrow the issues which need to be decided by the court. Again, this will stream line your divorce and save you money. Please note that under no circumstances can any mediator represent either one of you or offer you legal advice during or after mediation; although we can inform both of you of the relevant laws.
- What is the cost of mediation?
The cost of mediation depends on the issues to be resolved. We normally work hourly (typically the cost is $250 per hour with a two and one-half hour minimum). However, we would consider a flat fee in the right situation. Normally, each party pays one-half the cost of mediation.
- How long does it take?
Mediation can be as long or short as you desire. The mediation can be adjourned and reconvened if either party is feeling overwhelmed or if one or both parties need to obtain additional information.
- Professional advice
Many of the issues that arise in a dissolution action have tax implications or other legal and financial implications. It is in your intelligent best interest to seek professional advice on these issues prior to signing any agreement as the agreement is a legally binding document and does have long term implications.