Mediation has become a common option to resolve issues related to separation and divorce without the need for litigation. It is a preferred choice where individuals want to make their own informed choices rather than have a judge decide. An experienced neutral mediator can facilitate the sometimes-difficult conversations surrounding financial disentanglement and parenting decisions and access moving forward.
Many people have heard of mediation as a means of dispute resolution, but when it comes to how the mediation process works, there are some myths and misconceptions. To help people understand how the mediation process works, I have compiled some common questions that people have when deciding on the process for their divorce.
How do I decide if mediation is right for me?
The best way to decide if mediation is the right process is to research mediators experienced in family and matrimonial law and request a consultation to discuss the process and address any questions you and your spouse or partner may have. Many mediators offer a consultation at no charge as long as both parties attend.
Where are mediation sessions held?
Mediation sessions can be tailored to your own situation, but normally involve the parties meeting the mediator in a casual office-style setting. Mediators may also offer video conferencing and other online options.
It is generally recommended to have a consulting attorney during the mediation process; however, attorneys do not usually attend the mediation sessions. Attorney participation during the mediation session is based upon agreement by both parties.
How do I prepare for my first mediation session?
Once the parties have decided on the mediator, the mediator usually provides an agreement that sets forth the expectations of the process to ensure that the parties are fully informed about how the process works as well as the costs involved. The mediator may also provide each party with a questionnaire to compile basic information as well as a financial statement of net worth to make sure all assets and debt are addressed. The mediator uses the financial statement to help the parties decide what else may be needed to make decisions.
How long does the mediation process take?
This is one of the most common questions but does not have a “one size fits all” answer. While a major benefit of mediation is the efficient use of time compared to the court system, the length of time really depends on the issues to be discussed and resolved. While the mediator will help guide the discussion and keep things on track, there is no defined timeframe.
When a case is appropriate for mediation and the parties commit to the process it usually results in a good faith negotiation and settlement. In the event the parties feel they have exhausted the process and are not able to reach an agreement, they still have the option to go through the court system for their divorce. In this case, it is important to understand that anything discussed during the mediation will remain confidential and will not be admissible in court.
While these questions represent some of the most common questions I receive, they in no way represent all the questions you may have about the mediation process. Further information is available on my website and by attending a mediation consultation.