Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Mediation
What is divorce mediation?
Divorce Mediation is a process that allows disputing parties to resolve their disputes through negotiations, with the assistance of an impartial third party.
How does divorce mediation work?
The divorcing spouses meet in a series of sessions (lasting one to one-and-a-half hours typically) during which they gather relevant information, discuss the concerns of both parties, and make decisions about how they will divide their property and debt, care for their children, and make support arrangements.
Is mediation a substitute for lawyers?
Mediators are, by definition, not aligned with either party. Consequently, they can’t act as the attorney for either party, even if the mediator is a trained lawyer. It’s always a good idea to have the agreements you reach in mediation reviewed by a lawyer. In addition, you can’t be legally divorced without filing certain documents with a court, a task typically performed by lawyers. That said, you will usually spend substantially less on lawyers when the case is mediated.
What are the benefits of divorce mediation?
- It is generally much less expensive than a traditional divorce;
- It allows the spouses to control the outcome; neither person is compelled to agree and the process is only concluded when both sides are satisfied.
- The couple controls the pace of the process. If you want to be done quickly, mediation will allow you to do that. If you want to take more time, you have the freedom to schedule sessions according to your needs.
- It is focused on the future. If you have children, you will be sharing the care of your children post-divorce and mediation helps you make the transition to the new co-parenting relationship.
- It saves money in the future. Particularly where children are involved, changes often need to be made to the terms of the settlement, such as an increase or decrease in support or a modification of the parenting schedule. If you have resolved your case through mediation, you will likely return to mediation to make those changes and save yourself substantial sums in attorneys’ fees.
What is decided in divorce mediation?
All of the issues of a divorce can be worked out in mediation: division of property and debt, parenting, child support, and maintenance (alimony).
How long does divorce mediation take?
It can last anywhere from a few weeks to many months but it is up to the couple t o control the pace of the process. Most cases are done within three to six months.
How is mediation paid for?
Generally, a mediator will require a deposit and will bill against the deposit, based upon the mediator’s hourly rate. Other arrangements, including pay-as-you-go, can be made.
What should I look for when selecting a divorce mediator?
A divorce mediator should be very experienced, both in mediation and also in family law. A mediator who understands the nuances of family law will be a useful source of information for the couple as they consider the complex issues involved in a divorce.
How does divorce mediation differ from going to court?
In a court, a judge decides the outcome. In mediation, the divorcing spouses are in control of the outcome. You will be able to take as much time as is necessary to reach mutually acceptable decisions and neither spouse can be ordered to accept any outcome.
When is divorce mediation not appropriate?
There are some instances where, due to issues of severe abuse, addiction, or mental illness, the spouses may not be able to conduct a face-to-face negotiation, even with a mediator. Every case should be individually evaluated.
Do I have to be present during mediation, or can the mediator act as a go-between?
Most cases are mediated with both parties in the same room. However, mediators will use “caucuses”–meetings with each person individually–when the mediator or the parties deem it appropriate.
If mediation is not successful, what’s the next step?
A case that is not resolved through mediation can still go through the traditional court process.