Why should I consider mediation for my divorce?

Mediation allows separating and divorcing couples to be in control of their future and creates an environment that helps them make decisions that both parties can agree upon. It is particularly helpful for parents who will need to continue making joint decisions about their children well into the future.The mediation process can also serve as a foundation for discussing and making future decisions. Also,the compliance rate for mediated settlements is significantly higher since both parties have come to an agreement together.

What does the mediator do?

The family law mediator acts as a neutral party with special training to assist couples in resolving issues and developing an agreement they can both live with in the future. Facilitating communication and providing each party with uninterrupted speaking time is a key part of the mediator's role, as well as asking questions to assure each party's needs and desires are clearly stated. The mediator also provides professional information about alternative options for solving issues.

How does the process work?

The couple and the mediator plan out and meet in a series of mediation sessions, usually 1 - 2 hours long.

In the first meeting, issues are identified and important information is noted for later discussions. Afterwards, the couple gathers all relevant financial and other data required.

During further meetings, discussions continue about how to compromise on the various issues in a way that meets the needs of both the husband and the wife.

When an agreement has been reached on all issues, the mediator will assist the parties in memorializing their agreement for review by the parties and attorneys, if any.

Will we have to appear in court?

No. Court appearances are not required by either party.

How long does mediation take?

The length of the mediation depends upon the complexity of the issues and the willingness of the individuals to compromise and negotiate a fair agreement. While each case is different, the average case usually takes at least three to four two-hour mediation sessions, spread out over at least a month or two. It can take up to six months for complex cases.

Is mediation cheaper than using lawyers to settle a divorce?

Many lawyers charge retainer fees starting at $5,000 for average cases, and they bill the client for services in addition to the time covered by the retainer. So the cost of mediation from beginning to end can be less than the combined retainer fees ($10,000+) would be if the parties hired lawyers to handle the divorce.

Typical divorce costs can run two to ten times higher than the mediation cost. Also, keep in mind that divorce includes both financial and emotional costs for both of the parties as well as any children involved. The mediation process can greatly reduce the emotional cost.

Will our agreement be enforceable?

Once an agreement has been signed and filed by the parties or their attorneys, that agreement is legally enforceable.

Should I see a lawyer during mediation?

The mediator cannot give either party legal advice, as the goal is to remain a neutral third party. Both the husband and wife are encouraged to obtain independent legal advice during the mediation process. Each party's attorney should also review the agreement before it is signed.

What if my case is too complicated for mediation?

No case is too complicated to be settled in the mediation process. With the use of outside expert consulting for financial issues and legal matters, a clear and fair solution can be reached in any situation.

What if we can't agree on all issues?

Most of the time, an agreement can be reached on all issues in a case. If a few issues remain unresolved, an agreement can still be prepared on all the settled issues. Then the parties can either take more time to consider the issues and return to mediation at a later date, or the issues can be resolved through litigation.

We don't get along well. How can we possibly mediate?

Many couples that are very emotional about the divorce are concerned about negotiating face to face. However, mediators are trained to assist with people who have high emotions and stress levels. The mediation process is extremely effective in helping parties reach an agreement without adding to the emotional and financial cost of divorce. At Redefining Divorce, separate meetings is always an option if the mediator recommends it and the parties agree to it.

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