What are some of the advantages of mediation?
Mediation directly involves you and your spouse with an opportunity to work together to bring about resolution of your differences. It can be less expensive both financially and emotionally for all involved. Traditional divorces often end with lengthy and costly court battles leaving the participants emotionally, physically and financially drained and unsatisfied with the outcome. Mediation helps preserve and acknowledge the importance of ongoing relationships. Mediation is private, allowing you and your spouse to discuss and resolve the issues that are important for your family.
We are not married. Can we still use mediation?
Mediation is well suited to all types of family issues such as unmarried parents, post-divorce parents, non–traditional relationships, parent and teen relationships, grandparent custody and parenting issues.
How does mediation work?
The mediator meets with you to explain the process and answer any questions you may have about mediation. The mediator spends also spends some time individually with each of you to get a snapshot of what brings you to mediation. This is followed by a joint session with the mediator to begin working on the issues both of you have identified that need to be resolved.
How long will it take?
Mediation varies in length depending on the complexity of the issues and the readiness of the participants. On average mediation of parenting time and custody, including the first appointment and a written parenting plan agreement will take on average 2 to 5 session with each session being 1.5 to 2 hours.
Mediating financial issues including child support, spousal support and division of assets and debts can average between two to four sessions. Again, the length of time in mediation depends on the participants and the complexity of the issues.
How much will it cost?
The cost for mediation is $190.00 per hour. A usual mediation session is two hours so the cost would be $380.00 for a session. Each session is paid for at the time of the session. Phone calls, emails and other communications between sessions are billed at the hourly cost.
How do I mediate if I don’t trust the other person?
Mediation focuses on how you and your spouse/partner are going to communicate and make decisions. This may seem counter-intuitive if you are thinking “how can I trust this person to follow through with agreements?” This is normal and natural to feel this way when relationships are breaking down. The irony is that when you turn to the adversarial legal process, this just reinforces the mistrust. Mediation can help you to move forward and to help prevent further break down in the communication. When working in mediation, both of your perspectives are seen and heard and from here you can build the road map to resolution of the issues. In doing so the perceived threat of what the other person wants or will take is lessened.
My spouse has been abusive. Can I still mediate?
This is very important information to tell the mediator in your first contact. Mediators are trained to manage conflict and work to balance power imbalances. However, if there has been physical, mental and/or emotional abuse, then mediation may not be beneficial. In some situations, mediation may be appropriate if safety parameters can be incorporated such as the mediator going back and forth between you and your spouse while you are in separate rooms.
Do I really need to consult with an attorney – can’t you just advise us on what to do?
As a mediator, I cannot give you legal advice, so I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney at some point during the mediation process. Clients are often hesitant to meet with attorneys believing that they will make things adversarial and costly. Consulting with an attorney does not mean the process will become adversarial. It can be helpful to have an attorney walk you through the “legal landscape” of divorce. You are making very important decisions; some that will take place over the years.
It makes good business sense to insure that you are fully informed about any legal effect the agreement may have and to insure that all legal information is included when filed with the court. Your attorney is your advisor, helping you make informed decisions. Your attorney can also review any agreements you reach in mediation, and help with the filing of the necessary papers. If you file on your own and there is a problem with the paperwork the court may very well return it to you with little or no explanation. This can be frustrating and costly. I can provide clients with attorney contacts that are “mediation friendly” and are able to help move the process along.
Will there be anything in writing?
Once you have reached a resolution on all or some of the issues, I can prepare a mediated agreement for your review. You will be encouraged to also have the agreement reviewed by an attorney of your choosing. Once you are both satisfied with the terms of the written agreement, you will be provided with a final copy. This copy can then be incorporated into any necessary legal processing for the divorce.
Preparation of all or part of an agreement is billed at the regular hourly rate.
Do you file the agreement with the court?
The legal documents for the divorce will need to be completed. Because of the complexity of filing the legal documents I recommend you use an experienced divorce attorney to accomplish the legal filing. The attorney will review your agreement and will prepare the legal documents necessary for legal processing
of your divorce. Some people choose to fill out the legal paperwork themselves (self help) and to have an attorney review the papers to ensure that they are filled out correctly. I am able to provide a list of attorneys that are available to review your mediated agreement as well as finalize the legal paperwork.