WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?
Divorce mediation is a process in which one attorney meets with the spouses and works as a neutral mediator to reach a final agreement on the terms of the divorce. Most times, the mediator drafts the Separation Agreement and assists in preparing all the necessary court documents to have the divorce properly presented to a court. The process may be completed in just a few meetings and one single appearance in court.
WHY DIVORCE MEDIATION?
1. Cost: In just about every case it is less expensive (see risks below for the exception). For example, if both parties have similar incomes both contribute to paying one fee for the mediation. Two people paying one mediator, as opposed to two people paying two attorneys separately.
2. Speed: If both spouses cooperate and do their ‘homework’ the process can be completed much quicker than a divorce that is dragged out in court. Mediation usually consists of one court date. A traditional contested divorce consists of several court dates spread out over many months.
3. Atmosphere: The discussions take place in a private office setting, not in a public court room. Meetings take as much or as little time as needed.
4. Civility: Emotions can be better managed in a mediation setting, resulting in less bitterness and anger over attempts to resolve differences. Mediation allows ample opportunity for each spouse to voice all of their questions and concerns. It also helps to build a positive back and forth between spouses. In a court setting most times the parties must bring out the negative about the other party, thereby destroying any goodwill.
5. Confidentiality: All of our discussions and negotiations are completely confidential. All tentative agreements and/or proposals are completely confidential. Parties do not have to be concerned with “well if I offer this resolution now is it going to hurt me down the line?”.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF MEDIATION?
The process starts with a relatively short consultation. At the consult confidentiality is discussed, all the details of what is expected by each party and, if both parties agree, a fee agreement is signed. Next, we discuss the general concerns, agreements and options of resolution. The parties are given their ‘homework’ and another meeting is scheduled. After receiving the ‘homework’ I create a DRAFT of the Separation Agreement, which is discussed in detail, and once all issues are resolved I draft the final documents and send them to the parties for final review and instructions for filing with the court.
IS DIVORCE MEDIATION RIGHT FOR US?
Can you be in the same room and have a civil conversation with your spouse? Can you trust that your spouse will provide full and accurate disclosure of all finances? Those are pretty much the two qualifications for mediation.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF MEDIATION?
If an agreement is not reached through mediation the divorce process is started right back at the beginning, only the parties must settle their differences through the court. The fee you paid to the mediator has been used up and there is no final agreement. Hopefully, at the very least, you have settled most of your differences and are much further along in the process.