Divorce Mediator, Divorce Mediation, and Divorce Lawyer Answers

What do I need to do to prepare for mediation?
How can we mediate if we do not get along?
What if we can’t agree on all of the issues?
What if my case is too complicated for mediation?
Should I see a lawyer during mediation?
Will our agreement be enforceable?
How does mediation compare to using lawyers to settle a divorce?
How long does the mediation process take?
Will I have to appear in court?
How does the process work?
What is the role of the mediator?
Why should I consider mediation for my divorce?
What is Mediation?

What do I need to do to prepare for mediation? Top

In order for mediation to be the most effective and as efficient as possible, individuals need to be adequately prepared. The parties should come prepared with a list of all their assets and debts in order for them to be adequately divided between the parties. They should also bring their most recent pay stub and tax return in order to determine the financial obligations of each party. The Peaceful Dissolution attorney-mediatior will send out a form asking for all this information prior to the first mediation session so that the couple will know exactly what they need to bring.

Most importantly, the parties need to come with an open mind and willingness to compromise.

How can we mediate if we do not get along? Top

Divorce is a difficult process that brings about a high level of emotion and stress in the individuals involved. This often causes individuals to be apprehensive about mediating face to face. However, a mediator is trained in conflict resolution and will help to maintain a safe and controlled environment for the couple involved. However, if one party is completely uncomfortable meeting with the other party, a shuttle mediation process is an option. This consists of the mediator “shuttling” between the parties, with the two parties being in separate rooms. This, however, prolongs the mediation process and creates a great deal of undue delay. This form of mediation is not recommended for that reason. It is advised that clients should allow, if possible, for the regular mediation process to take place in order to keep the process effectively moving forward without wasting any additional time.

What if we can’t agree on all of the issues? Top

Most of the time, it is possible to reach a satisfactory resolution between the parties. If a few issues remain unresolved, an agreement can be prepared on all of the issues that have been settled. This is referred to as a partial mediation agreement. The parties may then take time to think over the unresolved issues and return to mediation at a later date or, in the alternative, the remaining issues can be resolved through litigation.

What if my case is too complicated for mediation? Top

No case is too complicated for mediation. A fair resolution can be obtained in any case if the parties are willing to keep an open mind, adequately communicate, and compromise.

Should I see a lawyer during mediation? Top

A mediator is not authorized to give legal advice to either side since this would prevent the mediator from maintaining a neutral stance. Thus, it is advised for each party to seek independent legal advice during the mediation process. However, obtaining outside legal advice is not necessary for the process to move forward or to be successul. It is simply a decision that remains with the individual parties. If independent legal counsel is obtained by either side, it is important that the party’s attorney review the mediation agreement before it is signed.

Will our agreement be enforceable? Top

Once an agreement is reached and signed by each party, the agreement becomes legally enforceable. This agreement will then be converted into a judgment that will be filed with the court, along side all other documents necessary to finalize the divorce. This judgment is the equivalent of any other judgment filed by a family law attorney and will be enforced by the court in the same manner.

How does mediation compare to using lawyers to settle a divorce? Top

Mediation is designed to be an economical way for divorcing individuals to reach a settlement agreement by avoiding unnecessary expenses and time delays. It further allows the couple to maintain control of the divorce process as they are responsible to come to a final agreement, mutually agreed upon and signed by both parties. Thus, the parties will be able to reach the same result as a traditional divorce, while maintaining control, in a shorter period of time, for a fraction of the cost!

How long does the mediation process take? Top

The goal of mediation is to create the best possible solution for the parties in both a cost effective and time efficient manner. The length of mediation is determined by a variety of factors including the complexity of the issues involved and the willingness of the parties to compromise with one another in order to reach a mutual agreement. While each case is different, a party should expect mediation to consist of at least two or three mediation sessions lasting about two-hours spread out over a one to two month period. This is dependent upon the schedules of the parties and the mediator. However, it is certainly possible to complete the mediation process in a shorter amount of time. A complex case may require some additional sessions in order to get things resolved.

Will I have to appear in court? Top

No. Mediation does not require either party to make a court appearance.

How does the process work? Top

The mediator will send each client a questionnaire, regarding facts about their case, to be filled out prior to conducting the first mediation session. This allows the mediator to become familiar with the issues that need to be addressed and resolved during mediation. Once the mediator has received the completed questionnaires and had time to review them, the first mediation session will be scheduled. During the first meeting with the couple (and any possible follow up meetings), the couple will discuss how to reach a compromise on the various issues needing to be resolved. Once the couple is able to reach a mutually agreed upon settlement, the mediator will draft up the final agreement, which shall be reviewed and signed by the parties (and their attorneys, if any). Once the mediation agreement is signed, the mediator will prepare the final judgment, and other necessary divorce paperwork, to be filed with the court.

What is the role of the mediator? Top

The mediator acts as a third party neutral with special training to assist couples in reaching a satisfactory resolution in their divorce. Individuals in conflict often suffer from a breakdown in communication which can cause the dispute between the parties to escalate. Helping to facilitate communication between the parties and making sure that each party is given an equal opportunity to be heard and understood is a key role of the mediator. A mediator provides safety, control, and order during the dissolution process. A mediator further contributes experience and expertise through adequate legal training and negotiation skills.

An attorney-mediator also has the added ability to draft up the final divorce judgment to be filed with the court once an agreement has been reached.

Why should I consider mediation for my divorce? Top

Mediation allows separating and divorcing couples to have control of their future through a controlled and safe process. A resolution is most effective when it is jointly agreed upon by the individual parties being affected. Agreements reached in mediation are mutually agreed upon by each party. Thus, mediation allows parties to be actively involved in determining what will be enforced by the court as opposed to having a court order imposed upon them by a third party (e.g. a judge) who has very little knowledge about the parties and their situation.

Mediation also has the additional benefits of being both cost effective and time efficient. Thus, a couple can come to a complete agreement and finalize their divorce in a shorter amount of time and for a fraction of the cost of a traditional divorce.

What is Mediation? Top

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which aims to assist disputing individuals in reaching an amicable resolution. The disputing parties are responsible to reach a mutually agreed upon solution through the assistance of a trained mediator.

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"In my opinion, there is no comparison between mediation and traditional divorce. I have seen the process and end results of both, and I will forever be an advocate of mediation."
- Kelly C. Snider