FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DIVORCE MEDIATION

This information is intended to assist you in maximizing and economizing your mediation experience. Our goal is to assist you to most effectively, comfortably and confidently represent yourself (with any desired assistance by legal counsel) in mediation. In mediation, you will be making all of the decisions. The mediators have no decision-making powers. Thus, it is important for you to consider how you can best represent your interests in mediation, as well as the results that you would like to create in mediation.

How long will the mediation take and how much will it cost?

Unfortunately, it is hard to predict with precision how long a mediation will take or how much mediation will cost. These issues depend primarily on how agreeable the participants are. Generally, for divorce and family matters, we meet anywhere from two to twelve times for approximately one hour each meeting. If everyone agrees, and if time permits, mediation sessions can be held for longer periods in order to move the process along more quickly.  At the conclusion of the mediation, we will prepare a comprehensive agreement for you that describes all of the terms and conditions of your settlement.  This comprehensive agreement could be in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, a Separation Agreement or a Divorce Petition.  The cost of a comprehensive mediated agreement generally ranges between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the complexity of your situation and the level of involvement of outside counsel. We will be as specific as possible in these regards once we have a better understanding of your situation.

What if we already agree on some things? 

Fantastic! The first thing that we want to do in mediation is to identify what you already agree on. We will use those points of agreement as a foundation for your overall agreement. Sometimes, the concepts that make sense to you on certain easy issues can be applied to resolve other issues as well. We will want to be sure that your agreement is well-informed and that you are aware of the many issues that you may want to consider. What is included in your agreement is up to you. Our goal is to support your well-informed decision-making.

What are our chances for success? 

Evidence shows, and our experience supports the fact that, over 90% of mediating parties reach comprehensive resolution. This high success rate is due to most participants being highly motivated to reach agreement.

What if we don't reach agreement? 

In mediation, all discussions and materials, with very few exceptions, are confidential. If no mediated agreement is reached, evidence of the mediation discussions, mediation materials and any draft mediation resolutions will not be admissible in any court or other adversarial proceeding.  In addition, mediation is a completely voluntary process.  At any point if either or both of you feel that the process is not productive, you can terminate mediation and you always have the option to seek outside counsel.

Who pays for mediation? 

Responsibility for mediation fees is an issue to be decided by mediation participants. Participants are encouraged to consider sharing fees to some extent so that all will benefit from expeditious and economic resolution.

What about individual attorneys? 

Participants need to decide how actively involved, if at all, they would like legal counsel to be. As mediators, we are ethically bound, at a minimum, to advise you to have any mediated settlement agreement reviewed by individual legal counsel prior to your signing that agreement. In practice, we have found that it works best for mediating parties to obtain one to four hours of individual legal advice throughout the mediation process. This legal advice may be best obtained early in the mediation, by legal counsel's review of a near-final draft agreement, and by counsel's review of the final agreement. This minimum level of consultation will, we suggest, dramatically elevate your comfort and confidence in the final agreement.

What about utilizing experts? 

Depending on your circumstances, it may make sense, in a particular case, for mediation participants to retain mutually trusted experts for assistance. For example, participants may desire a trusted valuation of real property, personal property or a business. It is also not uncommon for mediating parties to choose to jointly consult with an accountant or tax expert. Mediation participants with parenting concerns may find it beneficial to obtain the thoughts and recommendations of a trusted child psychologist.  We collaborate with a group of trusted professional advisors with a broad range of expertise to whom we can refer, if need be.

What else can I do to prepare? 

Perhaps the most important thing any mediating party can do to ensure a satisfying and successful mediation experience is to prepare for the mediation discussions by clarifying your desired outcomes and the concepts of fairness that make sense to you. Stated otherwise, "What do you want?" and "How will you know that it is alright to agree?"

 
 

when a couple decides ...

to separate/divorce, their dreams and plans for their future(s) have been crushed. Divorce has sometimes referred to as "death without a body" and after the loss of a spouse through death, divorce ranks second as one of life's most stressful events. Over 55% of first-time marriages in the United States result in divorce and over 70% of second-time marriages also end in divorce. Mediation is the least intrusive and most healing of the legal options to divorce.

I became a divorce and family mediator through witnessing the loss, heartache and unrelenting cycle of trauma that the legal process and events inflicted on my patients.  As my patients lawyered up to “win all” in an adversarial fight filled with legal maneuvers, fear and drama- often lasting years, I received training in mediation. I learned that often cases that took years to resolve the first time around, ended up back in court again and again; that the battle in the marriage continued for years after- only in the domain of the court.

Litigants in an adversarial process are 3 times more likely to return to court than participants in a mediated divorce.

Mediation is a tested, sensitive, intelligent approach to the resolution of separation, divorce and custody disputes. In mediation, the couple meets with a mediator (s) who raises all of the topics which need to be addressed and facilitates a discussion between the couple to reach a resolution. A constructive framework is provided that promotes separating/divorcing couples to make mutual decisions as they move from “opposing positions” to discussions and negotiations of “mutual interests”.  Mediation is cost effective and allows a couple to begin to move forward separately. Even “high conflict” couples can begin to make agreements that will become part of a larger separation agreement, rather than having decisions imposed on them by a court. Except for specific regulations around child support and retirement contributions, court filing fees and a judge sign off; a couple dissolving their marriage through mediation can keep it private and create an agreement unique to them and the needs of their family.

In my mediation practice, I mediate with attorney, Petra Maxwell, Esq.  Together we each bring a unique perspective to the process. We are able to quickly problem solve issues to promote creative options for separating couples. Petra is able to draft the separation agreement and initiate the court filing on behalf of the couple; creating a cleaner, less intrusive process.

divorce bibliography

Ahrons, Constance, The Good Divorce: Keeping the Family Together When Marriage Comes Apart, Harper Press, New York, 1994

Anderson, Susan, The Journey From Abandonment to Healing, Berkley Books, New York, 2000

Applewhite, Ashton, Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, Harper Paperbacks, 1998

Birnbach, Larry & Hyman, Beth, How to Know if It's Time to Go         

Clapp, Genevieve, Divorce and New Beginnings, Wiley Press, New York, 1992

Cohen, Harriet & Gardner, Ralph, Divorce Book for Men and Women, Avon, New York, 1994

Colgrove, Melba, PhD, How to Survive the Loss of a Love, Prelude Press, Los Angeles, 1991

Condrell, Kenneth, Be A Great Divorced Dad, St. Martin’s Griffin Press, 1997

Cruse, Sharon, Life After Divorce, Heath Communications, Inc., New York, 1994

Ellison, Sheila, The Courage to Love Again: Creating Happy Healthy Relationships After Divorce, Harper Press, San Francisco, 2002

Engber, Andrea and Klungress, Leah, The Complete Single Mother, Adams Media Press, New York, 1995

Ferrante, Elsa, The Days of Abandonment, Edizioni c/o Europa Editions, 2005

Fisher, Bruce and Alberti, Robert, Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, Impact, 1999

Ford, Debbie, Spiritual Divorce, Harper Press, San Francisco, 2001

Gardner, Richard, The Boys and Girls Book About Divorce, Bantam Press, New York, 1985

Knox, David, The Divorced Dad’s Survival Book: How to Stay Connected With Your Kids, Perseus Paperbacks, 2000

Moffett, Kay and Touborg, Sarah, Not Your Mother’s Divorce: A Practical, Girlfriend to Girlfriend Guide to Surviving the End of a Young Marriage, Broadway, 2003

Neuman, M. Gary, Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastle Way, Random House, 1998

Pittman, Frank, Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy, Norton, 1990

Ricci, Isolina, Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child, Fireside, 1997

Ross, Julie and Corcoran, Judy, Joint Custody With a Jerk: Raising a Child With an Unco-operative Ex, St. Martin Press, 1996

Rothman, Bernard, Esq., Leaving and Loving: Winning at the Business of Divorce, Divorce Press, 1991

Russianoff, Penelope, Why Do I Think I Am Nothing Without A Man?, Bantam Books, 1988

Siegler, Ava Ph.D., What Should I Tell The Kids, Penguin Books, 1994

Trafford, Abigail, Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Revised Edition, Harper Press, New York, 1992

Warren, Sally and Thompson, Andrea, Dumped!, Cliff Street Books/Harper Collins, New York, 1998

Weiss, Robert, Marital Separation: Coping With the End of Marriage and the Transition to Being Single Again, Basic Books, New York, 1975

Siegler, Ava Ph.D., What Should I Tell The Kids, Penguin Books, 1994

Trafford, Abigail, Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Revised Edition, Harper Press, New York, 1992

Warren, Sally and Thompson, Andrea, Dumped!, Cliff Street Books/Harper Collins, New York, 1998

Weiss, Robert, Marital Separation: Coping With the End of Marriage and the Transition to Being Single Again, Basic Books, New York, 1975

 

For mediation information, questions and/or to schedule a consultation contact me.