INFORMATION ON DIVORCE MEDIATION
What is Divorce Mediation All About?
“Divorce mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. It is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but there are distinct stages to the mediation process. Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. In divorce mediation, you and your spouse -- or, in some cases, the two of you and your respective lawyers -- hire a neutral third party, called a mediator, to meet with you in an effort to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. The mediator doesn't make decisions for you, but serves as a facilitator to help you and your spouse figure out what's best.”
The couple communicates to each other, in the same room, instead of through an attorney, increasing the likelihood of clear communication and a better relationship after the divorce. The role of the mediator is to guide the process and ensure an even playing field, which greatly reduces stress.
We will look at the process of mediation so that you know what it is, can familiarize yourself with me and start the process without me. Please check out the PowerPoint presentations on my website. This should save you money, regardless if you use me as a mediator.
Mediation has much to recommend it, not just being significantly less expensive and less painful for those going through separation and divorce.
Why Choose Mediation and What is it I Am Choosing by going to a Divorce Mediator?
Mediation is a businesslike, future-oriented, sensible and thoughtful way to settle disputes. It is all about having a good process, a system that has worked for thousands of people each year.
Mediation almost always hurts less, takes less time, focuses on the best interests of the children, increases the odds of getting along when the dust settles, and it tends to cost less, as well.
With a mediator, you are both in the same room, using one person who helps you communicate respectfully. You both work toward a solution and can use outside resources, as needed. You tend to do better when you realize you can achieve solutions together, even when feelings come up.
Remember it is less expensive than using lawyers in litigation:
Since the process takes less time, it is cheaper.
I encourage my people to do written, structured homework and talk to one another to resolve differences. This means they spend less time with me, unless they need me. This makes it better in the long run, and cheaper.
Since you are using one person (in mediation) instead of two (litigation), it is cheaper. Why pay two lawyers (At the rate of $350 an hour per lawyer the couple is charged is $700/ hour because they chose to use lawyers) at a time to resolve an issue that one person can resolve. In the end, you get a settlement whether it is $700/hour (two lawyers per hour at $350/ and hour) or $300/hour or less for a mediator?
You can pay more if you would like for the same product.
How do you Choose Mediation and a Mediator?
By the way, some mediators charge different amounts and it can be hard to choose. Everyone has the basic mediator qualifications, which are the minimum standards. Do you want a mediator who is content with the minimum standard?
Do you care more about the hourly rate or how much the entire process will cost?
Litigation will cost 3-5 times the money and time as mediation. An efficient mediator will work with you and encourage you to talk with your partner to get things done. If there is conflict with hostility or high conflict between the two of you, you’re going to take longer and pay more money.
Questions to ask, “Is your mediator actually trained in mediation? Do they get continuing education in mediation? How much per year do they get mediation specific training? Are they part of the local group or state association/council? How often do they go to these meetings and do they train there or are they on the Board? “
Please remember, if they are lawyers, acting as mediators, they are legally not allowed to give legal advice (practice law). Almost no one goes to court, even when choosing litigation. Only 2-3% make it to court because they run out of money or settle out of court. Think about the price they paid to go all the way to court, prepare for court, get documents etc, when, in the end, they settled exactly as they would have in mediation. Imagine that frustration.
We’ve all heard or witnessed horror stories about lawyers who perpetuate conflict to get paid more. Yes, it is highly unethical and yet…
I know good lawyers, people with integrity. If you need a lawyer in the process, please get one that believes in working together and use the word “collaborative”. If they have not been trained collaboratively, the tendency is for them to want to litigate.
Since you are encouraged to work together for the benefit of your children, it is cheaper and less antagonistic all the way through and into the future, and you retain control of the outcome instead of some judge telling you what to do with your children and money.
I’m still not convinced about mediation - how do I protect myself?
At the end of this decision making, common sense process, you have the opportunity to have an attorney review your agreement, should you have any misgivings, whatsoever. At any time, you may also consult with a financial expert and bring that information to the table for discussion.
When both parties agree, post mediation, you see a lawyer who writes up the agreement in legal language. At this point, we move the common sense agreements into a legal document to prepare for the legal portion of divorce. The separation agreement then gets sent to the judge who reviews it. The attorney also submits additional paperwork to make it formal/official. You get notified when you are divorced.
You do not have a retainer in mediation and there is the ability to stop mediation at any point.
Let’s be honest and direct with each other:
It is difficult if you separate and divorce; it is likewise difficult to stay together.
It is painful to take it to court and it is painful to do it yourself. Each option has a tradeoff- a benefit and a drawback. Mediation tends to be the most durable, cheapest, least acrimonious option.
Mediation is a process where parties are still protected legally.
Mediation allows a civil relationship to continue after the separation.
The wrongs of the past are unchangeable… people rarely complain about the future, so if you are complaining, you are probably not focusing on your future aspirations. If you are expressing a need and making a request (reminder that requests do not have strings attached and no punishment or consequences if they choose not to assent.) you won’t be complaining.
We focus on - “What do you want in the future?” versus “rehashing the past”
Mediation is commonly misunderstood, so please allow me to continue.
From “The Fundamentals of Family Mediation” by John Haynes and Stephanie Charlesworth:
“Mediation is a process in which a third person helps the participants in a dispute to resolve it. The agreement resolves the problem with a mutually acceptable solution and is structured in a way that helps maintain the continuing civil relationships of the people involved. The chosen solution must satisfy all the participants in the dispute. They must negotiate which solution or combo of solutions is acceptable to all of them.”