There are different styles of mediation.Some mediators put the spouses in different rooms and shuttle offers back and forth between the two parties.While I can do mediation in this way under certain circumstances, my style is normally to meet with both spouses together.In this way, the spouses have an opportunity to hear each other's concerns and the mediator tries to help them explore their own interests and that of their spouse.
Each spouse will have an opportunity to talk, uninterrupted, about his or her issues and concerns, and how they would like to see those issues settled.Together we generate a list of issues to decide and then discuss each issue separately.In order to file for a non-contested divorce, the court will need decisions on property and debt division, spousal maintenance, and a parenting plan (if there are minor children of the marriage).
I give couples worksheets so that between sessions they can gather the information on their assets and liabilities, budgets, and information for completing the child support worksheet.After they have made decisions in all the areas, I will draft a Memorandum of Agreement, encompassing all of the agreements made during mediation.
How much does divorce mediation cost?
Using mediation for divorce greatly reduces the cost over the traditional adversarial process for at least two reasons.First, couples divide the cost of the mediator between them rather than each paying a lawyer to negotiate for them.Second, it will take much less time because both spouses are looking at the same information at the same time, rather than sending documents back and forth.
The amount of time that mediation takes depends on several factors, such as whether there are minor children, the number and complexity of the assets and the degree to which the couple is conflicted over the issues.I work with couples in two-hour sessions, and the average divorce mediation (with parenting plan) takes two to three sessions (5-6 hours).My hourly rate is $275 for time spent in mediation.There is usually a one-time administrative fee which covers all time spent outside of the sessions (e.g., drafting of the mediation agreement and other documents).This also depends on the complexity of the issues and will be set at the time of the first session.
Will I need a lawyer?
While the courts do not require that couples be represented by counsel, mediator ethics require that I advise anyone mediating their divorce to have their final agreement reviewed by an attorney.During the mediation process, the mediator can give general information about the legal process and settlement options.However, specific legal advice is never given, and it is often helpful to individuals in mediation to consult with an attorney on their specific situation.I am happy to give couples names of attorneys who I know are supportive of the mediation process.
My spouse and I really disagree about a lot of issues.Will mediation work for us?
Mediation is not just for the rare couple that already agrees on everything.The process is routinely used in situations where there is profound disagreement on issues and has been found to be extremely effective in all types of disputes.Statistics show that about 80-85% of the time, people are able to resolve those disagreements in mediation and move forward.I find that these statistic to hold true in my practice as well.The success of the process depends on the couple's willingness to keep an open mind and explore a variety of options.At the very least, the mediation process can help each person become very clear on their needs and those of their spouse.
We seem to agree on a lot of things, but we can't seem to move forward.Can mediation help?
Yes.Having a third person to keep couples focused is usually quite helpful for them when going through a divorce. Couples who come in with many issues already agreed upon find that working with a mediator helps keep them on track and moving toward getting all the agreements clearly delineated and written down.It is not unusual in these instances for couples to realize during mediation that there were a couple of items they overlooked in their previous discussion, so they are able to have a more complete understanding of all of the issues.
My spouse/ex-spouse lives in another area, is there any way we can mediate?
Yes. I have been successful mediating with couples through a telephone
conference call.I use email to assure that everyone has the same
information in front of them as we discuss the issues.
If we discuss something in mediation, can that be used against me later if we end up in court?
No.Discussions in mediation are confidential.Any settlement options that are discussed or offered cannot be used as testimony in a legal proceeding.Mediators cannot be called to testify as to what was said in the mediation session