Divorce is a traumatic and painful emotional experience for the divorcing couple and their family, and unfortunately the negative aspects of divorce are often exacerbated in the more traditional dispute resolution processes of litigation or attorney centered negotiations in which the clients feel powerless and without control over the process of divorce.
In mediation, on the other hand, the parties decide the resolution of their conflict with the assistance of a neutral mediator. This means that the divorcing couple has complete control as to the process of resolving the issues of their divorce, as well as the terms of the settlement itself. In addition, the Mediator can help the couple learn how to communicate and fully understand his or her spouse and hopefully learn to use these skills on their own to resolve any future differences.
The Mediator will work with the couple to reach a resolution of their differences through improving their understanding of the issues and the other person’s point of view. In this way, each party has the opportunity to express his and her point of view and is given support equally. Once the party’s interests and motivations are expressed and heard by the spouse, it makes it easier for them to devise creative solutions to their disputes together and reach a mutual agreement which satisfies both parties’ needs, as well as the needs of the entire family.
The key to a successful mediation is for both parties to feel they can express themselves in a non-confrontational, non-adversarial environment, and the mediator will maintain that safe environment. Does that mean that the couple will never express anger or frustration? Absolutely not. They are still going through a very difficult and emotional time and are not expected to be dispassionate or never show anger or resentment. Many times it is even necessary to have those difficult conversations in order to reach a settlement. The key is to insure that each party is heard, understood and has the tools necessary to make decisions.
Once the parties have reached an agreement that is suited to the needs of their particular family, a Separation Agreement is drafted, and it is recommended that the parties then seek the input of individual review attorneys before executing the agreement. The parties can then file for divorce or simply live as a legally separated couple pursuant to the terms of the Agreement. As with all facets of Mediation, the choice is up to the couple themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do The Parties Need a Lawyer?
During the mediation process itself, the parties will not need an attorney, but they are free to consult with an attorney either before or during the process if they feel that they want legal advice. The Mediator will not be acting as a lawyer for either party and cannot provide legal advice. Also, the parties may agree to bring attorneys to the Mediation sessions, but that would increase the cost of your Mediation. At the end of the Mediation, it is recommended that the parties review the agreement with their own counsel before they sign the agreement.
Who Attends A Mediation?
All parties who are necessary for the decision making process must be present. In addition, as long as all parties and the Mediator agree, an individual may bring someone to the mediation for purposes of support or advocacy.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
Every mediation is different, but on average a divorce mediation will take two to three sessions of two hours each if you have minor children and one to two sessions of two hours each if you do not have minor children. However, the mediation can take longer if you have more complex issues or if the parties are in dispute over a significant amount of issues.
Is Mediation Mandatory?
No. Mediation is a voluntary process, and both parties must agree to mediate.
Why Do Mediation?
1. Mediation not only saves on the financial and emotional cost of litigation and on the increasing length of time it takes to complete a litigation, but it is particularly well suited in conflicts in which the parties will have an ongoing relationship, such as parents raising a child together, neighbor disputes or employment disputes.
2. Mediation can save money, time and effort and eliminates the uncertainty of results.
3. Mediation provides an opportunity for everyone to meet one another, share thoughts and understand one another's position.
4. Mediation allows the parties to vent in a safe and constructive manner for reaching resolution.
Can I Meet with the Mediator Alone?
Since one of most important concepts of mediation is the idea of the mediator's neutrality, it is not recommended that the Mediator speak at length with a party individually, and in fact, all emails and correspondence typically include both parties. However, on occasion the Mediator may suggest a caucus, where he or she speaks with one party and then the other. This could be helpful if there is significant hostility between the parties on a particular issue.
How Much Will Mediation Cost?
The cost of mediation is in line with the amount of time it takes to complete the mediation since you will be billed on an hourly basis. In general, the time spent in the mediation itself will be between $1,500 and $3,000, and then there are additional fees for drafting documents such as the Separation Agreement and divorce papers. Of course, it can cost more or less depending upon the complexity of the issues and the extent of the dispute. However, a mediated divorce is in general less costly than a litigated divorce or an attorney negotiated divorce.
What Qualities Do You Want In A Mediator?
2. Unbiased outlook.
3. Good listener.
5. Experience as a mediator.
6. Experience in the subject matter.
Does the Mediator Decide What Happens?
Not at all. To the contrary, the parties determine the order that issues are discussed, the amount of time spent and the terms of any agreement that is reached.
Can We Mediate If We Disagree?
All parties in conflict have different points of view, and it is not expected that you are in total agreement when you first come to mediate. The only thing you need to agree upon initially is the process of mediation itself.
Why Couples Choose to Work with Clare Piro as Their Mediator?
Clare offers divorcing couples both the benefit of her twenty-five years of experience in family law and her sensitivity to the emotional upheaval being faced by divorcing couples. She values the couple's right to determine the outcome of their divorce and sees her role as helping them communicate more effectively so they can reach a mutual agreement.
What are some Misconceptions About Mediation?
1. The mediator decides the settlement reached by the parties. To the contrary, any agreements that are reached are made by the parties.
2. The parties are too far apart to mediate. All parties in conflict have different points of view, but common interests can be found.
3. Mediation can only be done after a lawsuit is filed. Mediation can be done at any point but generally serves to avoid litigation so it is most commonly begun before other types of conflict resolution are used.