What is Divorce Mediation?

“Why would you give up your right to make the decisions that affect your life, and allow a judge or two attorneys to make them for you?”

First: What are my options?

  1. You can do it yourselves.  The two of you may work out the terms of your divorce (your Separation Agreement) and write it up without the use of anyone else or the courts.  You don’t have to use attorneys, and you don’t have to go to court for your Separation Agreement.  However, the number of decisions and the types of issues that should be included are overwhelming.  Someone needs to help you sort it all out.
  2. You can use two opposing attorneys.  Each attorney is working solely for the best interests of his/her own client.  The goal is win/lose – one winner and one loser.  And the fees are quite high.
  3. You can use attorneys practicing “collaborative law.”  This is a more peaceful approach in which the attorneys work together instead of against one another.  However, the attorneys tend to remain in control, and it can be expensive.
  4. You can go to court and ask a judge to make your decisions for you.  But are you willing to give up your right to make your own decisions?  And do you want a stranger (the judge) making decisions about your kids?  Plus, you’ll have the costs of your attorneys who will prepare your case and attend court with you.
  5. You can mediate.  With the help of a mediator, the two of you will work together in identifying the issues to be decided and arriving at creative solutions that fit both of you best.  Less cost, less time, less stress.

 

What is Divorce Mediation?

Simply put, a mediator works with two parties to help them resolve a conflict. The mediator is a neutral party working with both sides, together. In the case of divorce mediation, the mediator asks questions to help both of you identify what issues need to be decided, help you derive alternative answers to be considered, and lead you towards a position that both of you feel is fair. And the mediator is teaching you the concepts you need to know so that you can make “informed decisions.” The issues fall into four categories: [1] how to share your assets and debts (equitable distribution) [2] how the children will share their time with each of you (parenting arrangements or custody) [3] how the expenses of raising the children will be shared (child support) [4] whether one of you needs some financial help in moving forward (spousal support or alimony).

Mediation is a direct replacement for negotiating through two attorneys. It’s not about who has the stronger attorney, or what a judge would decide, or even what “the law” says. It’s about two adults making informed decisions with terms that feel fair. Attorneys are not present in our mediations (except in a few rare instances).

Why is Mediation Important?

Divorce is stressful. And it can be expensive. As you separate from your spouse, you will experience an upheaval of the way-of-life the two of you have built together. It will take a great emotional toll, regardless of whether you are the one choosing to leave or the one being left. Your emotions may be everywhere: anger, suspicion, relief, joy … fear of your spouse, fear of an unknown future.

The divorce process is sure to intensify those feelings. And the cost can be related to the level of anger that you feel.

You will want to minimize conflict as much as possible so that you can move on with your life. Especially if you have children, they need to see that their parents are at peace and can be respectful of one another.

Our approach is more like a discussion. It’s not about demands, threats are eliminated, and tensions are relaxed. We will help you lower both the stress level and the cost of your divorce.

How do our divorce mediation sessions work?

We meet with both of you in our office sitting together at a round table. Sometimes we might talk with each of you separately for a few minutes and then get back together. Most other mediators put you in separate rooms and you don’t get a chance to talk with one another.

Our sessions tend to last 2 to 3 hours. We usually meet once per week until all decisions are completed. The majority of our clients who have children need three or four sessions. If you do not have children, the process takes around half as long.

After each meeting, we write up what you’ve decided so far and send it to you for your review. Upon completion of the mediation, we send you a final draft. This document is called a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU. It looks very similar to a Separation Agreement. Because one person (the mediator) is not allowed to represent both parties of a contract, the mediator is not allowed to write your Separation Agreement (regardless of whether your mediator is an attorney or not). So either you or your attorneys will convert our MOU into your Separation Agreement.

Where does an attorney fit into the process? Click here…

Why Does Mediation Work?

  • A neutral party (the mediator), without taking sides, helps the two of you come to agreements that both of you feel are fair.
  • The two of you are in control of the process. You are working together, in the same room, on a common goal. You set the pace. You are given the time to think things through.
  • You can select a mediator that best fits the style that the two of you feel comfortable with.
  • Costs are kept down.  The two of you are sharing one mediator, instead of negotiating through two attorneys.  Questions can get answered immediately, instead of having attorneys filter the questions and answers.
  • You have the opportunity to be truly heard by the other.  You can explain your needs, and your constraints.
  • It is the nature of the process that the level of stress is greatly reduced. The emotional content that led to the divorce is set aside (for the moment).
  • The final decisions are yours, not a judge’s and not an attorney’s.  You are much more willing to live up to an agreement that you make, instead of an agreement that is made for you.
  • It’s not about the demands and threats.  It’s a peaceful discussion, listening to one another, hearing explanations rather than arguments.

Our Solution For You

We will help the two of you come to agreements on all of the issues – peacefully and efficiently.

We will provide an environment where you…

  • can express your needs and gain an understanding of your spouse’s needs;
  • will be taught what you need to know in order to make informed decisions;
  • will be offered alternative approaches for you to consider;
  • will give priority to the emotional and physical health of your children
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“Mediation is a direct replacement for negotiating through two attorneys.”

“Especially if you have children, your divorce needs to be peaceful.”

Mediation - fitting the pieces

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