What happens in Divorce Mediation?
- After the initial discussions with the parties to determine if the case is suitable for mediation, the mediator reviews the ground rules and the Agreement to Mediate. The divorce mediation process makes it easier for the parties to develop mutually satisfactory and appropriate solutions that let them put anxiety, fear or anger behind them and allows them to focus on the future.
- The mediator determines what the key issues are that need to be resolved, e.g. parenting time only, property division, spousal or child support, etc.
- The parties supply all relevant financial information for future sessions and draft short and long term budgets, etc. With this information in hand, the parties and the mediator work together to more clearly define specific issues and begin to develop options to resolve them.
- With the help of the mediator, the parties then negotiate the differences between the options generated and devise solutions acceptable to both parties.
- As solutions and agreements are reached, a binding Settlement Agreement is written, then reviewed by the parties and signed. This agreement, like any contract, is enforceable in court.
What issues are typically discussed in Divorce Mediation
- Short Term arrangements for custody, support, bill paying, etc.
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child support
- Insurance issues: healthcare and life
- Retirement benefits
- Medical expenses
- Tax allocation
- Other issues the parties believe necessary for the long term
What are some of the key things I need to keep in mind when I start Divorce Mediation
Focus on the future - you can't undo the past.
- Take care of yourself.
- See a counselor or minister or therapist just to talk.
- Get support from your family and friends.
- Sit down and go over your financial picture, short and long term.
- Make a list of options for yourself and children.
- Decide when and how to tell the children.
Check out this web site: www.Divorceinfo.com. This site has a lot of helpful ideas for coping with divorce and the changes it will bring to your life.
What does Divorce Mediation cost and how long does it take
A Divorce Mediation normally takes between three and six sessions of 1.5 hours to 3 hours and is based on an hourly rate plus the hours of outside time to prepare the Settlement Agreement. The actual time depends on the complexity of the issues involved and the ability and willingness of the parties to reach compromises.
The cost of a Divorce Mediation is usually split between the parties. Assuming an average of two hours per session and an average of 4 sessions, the cost for each party would be $600 plus hourly cost of time to prepare the Settlement Agreement and the cost of any consultations with attorneys or financial consultants, if they are needed.
However, parties are urged to compare these costs and time frames with the cost and time frame of a contested divorce in court and the uncertainly of the outcome.
What are the Rules of Divorce Mediation
- Divorce Mediation is completely voluntary. Any party can quit at any time.
- It is confidential. No information obtained can be used in court, nor can the mediator be called as a witness or be forced to disclose any notes or documents from the process.
- It is private and respectful.
- The mediator is impartial and neutral.
- The parties must negotiate in good faith. If the mediator determines that actions of a party are preventing a good faith negotiation, then he can call an end to the mediation and the parties will have to pursue their divorce in court.
- The mediator provides each party the continued opportunity to identify and express his/her needs, interests and options for resolution.
- No party is permitted to interrupt the other when they are speaking.
- No rude or obscene language is permitted.
- There must be full disclosure of financial data and other relevant information.
- The parties negotiate their own agreements.
- The mediator does not act as legal advisor or provide legal advice.
- If agreement is reached and signed, it is enforceable in court.
What is the role of the Mediator
- is neutral and does not decide who is right or wrong or take sides.
- helps both sides communicate more effectively and clarify issues.
- encourages each person to listen and hear the other side.
- educates parties about successful negotiating techniques.
- creates an environment that fosters productive negotiation.
- explores the underlying needs and interests of both parties to help create options for resolution.
- helps generate additional information, options and ideas.
- provides reality tests to check the reasonableness of demands.
- protects the mediation process from abuse by a party who seeks to harass or intimidate, rather than negotiate.
- meets or discusses issues with parties' attorneys.
- helps both parties find a mutually beneficial solution.
- prepares session memos and the memorandum of understanding.
What does the Mediator want from me
- A willingness to discuss your wants and needs beyond positions
- Openness to consider and offer options to make progress
- Good faith bargaining
- Prompt payment
What if I have been forced into Mediation by a court
- Make the most of it!
- You have nothing to lose and a great deal more to gain than by going to court.
- You might even find it will give you a satisfactory solution faster and at less cost.
If we reach an agreement and sign it, is it legally binding?
Yes. It is binding in a court of law, like any other contract.
You're in charge - when you choose to