Satisfaction and Control. Parties are satisfied with mediation because they feel included and empowered. Court testimony is limited to what clients are asked not what they want to say. Lawyers traditionally focus on economic goals but clients ask “Was I listened to fairly?”
Less Time Consuming. Mediation can be used immediately to obtain resolution. Ninety-five percent of all legal disputes settle without a trial — so, the question is not whether your case will settle but when. Often the court’s docket is full for months ahead and getting a trial date in less than six months is almost impossible. Parties have the opportunity to schedule the matter according to their own needs — information can be gathered and shared between parties at their own pace.
Privacy. All conversations during mediation are confidential. Any agreement reached through mediation and filed with the court will be public as a court order. Testimony in court, on the other hand can be painfully public. After testifying about the other parents lack of parenting skills or manipulation of finances, not only is it difficult to “unring the bell,” that testimony can be reproduced in transcript form and potentially used against a person.
Saving Money. Most clients who chose mediation did so because on average, it costs less than a traditional divorce. Please keep in mind that other factors can still affect the cost of a mediation, such as the number of disputed issues requiring additional sessions, the timing of the mediation, as well as any additional attorneys or experts hired to assist with the process.
Increased Compliance with Mediation Agreements. Without taking ownership of an agreement, people are less likely to comply. Even when a case has settled in a traditional manner parties do not always feel they have ownership of the agreement. Many people have stated, “My lawyer said I had to take this or we’d do worse in court.” Although a person has made that decision, he or she has not taken ownership of it. Increased compliance often means fewer return trips to court in the future.
More Effective Parenting and Reduced Conflict for Children. Unlike advocates in many other settings, parties with children must continue to communicate after the case is done. In the difficult cases, parties are forced to use a “notebook” because they cannot communicate verbally. Mediation assists people with improving their communication skills and improved communication reduces conflict. In fact, it is conflict rather than divorce per se which robs children of their future. Children of parents who communicate well, even though divorced, fare much better than those who do not, even though married.By continuing conflict parties have trouble making friends and forming new intimate relationships. Reducing conflict also improves self-esteem and business relationships which economically benefits the entire family.
The mediator discusses with the parties the issues that need to be addressed to reach a divorce settlement. With the mediator present, the parties are each given the opportunity to discuss what is important to them. The mediator assists the parties in working out their differences and with communicating their positions to each other. The mediator clarifies information about legal requirements but does not give legal advice.Depending on the case, the mediation agreement which will be drafted by the mediator at the session includes settlement of the following issues: child custody and placement schedules · the amount of child support · whether spousal maintenance will be paid by one party to the other, for how long and at what amount · dividing all property · payment and responsibility for debts. The agreement is your final divorce agreement and can be provided to the court as a final agreement.
Neutrality. As mediators, we must remain completely neutral. Please note that although we are attorneys, we will not be providing any legal advice, but will be assisting you as a mediator in coming to a mutually acceptable solution. This may include providing legal information and opinions provided the parties are at an impasse and both parties want the information. To maintain that neutrality, we will not conduct mediation for any current or past client nor will we represent anyone who has previously participated in this mediation process.
First be certain that you are getting divorced. Repeatedly separating and getting back together is an emotional rollercoaster. If possible, try to speak to them together. Stay calm and avoid blaming. Use the word “we” as much as possible-like-“we both love you”. Invite questions and explain honestly what you know and what you don’t know. Calmly accept their reaction whether it’s angry and emotional or if they don’t seem to react at all. Remember, this will be the first of many conversations. So continue to keep them informed.
We do not require any money up front and only need both parties to provide very basic information to start such as name, address, and phone numbers for both. When we have spoken with both parties and you have selected a date for the first session, we will send out more information. At that first session you can choose to pay the entire mediation fee or you can take advantage of our “pay-as-you-go” option. We will explain the process and discuss the issues as well as how to gather financial information. It would be helpful if you do not negotiate before this session until you have more information. The overwhelming majority of couples reach an agreement on all issues.
When you file your initial divorce documents, please note that the court will require a filing fee. The filing fee is $184.50 if there are no children or no maintenance or $194.50 if you have minor children or one party will be receiving maintenance.