Mediation adds a neutral third party into the discussion.
Objective is Self-Determination: The objective of mediation is for you and your spouse – and not someone else (i.e. a Judge) – to determine your rights and obligations, including custody, parenting time, child support, payment of college expenses, alimony, property division, medical insurance, life insurance, payment of debts. Mediation gives you and your spouse control of the outcome.
How it’s done: As the mediator, I will help you and your spouse discuss the underlying issues, explore options and move past impasse so as to reach your own solution. I find that when people have dialogue, they gain insights into their own and each other’s motivations and often find the path to agreement. What’s more, parties who successfully mediate generally wind up at a place that is more satisfying and acceptable to them than anything forced upon them. Mediating parties, also, tend to come up with solutions that are more creative and better suited to their needs than what a Judge may order.
Process: Unlike Litigation, you control mediation. It will proceed at your pace and you will decide how many sessions are needed to get to “yes.” What’s more, you set the agenda for each session. Also, mediation is generally confidential and conducted in a private conference room and not in open court.
Disclosures: In order for the parties to make informed decisions, each party to a mediation must disclose and share information about income, expenses, debts and property.
Role of the Mediator: It is important to understand the differences between the duties of an attorney and a mediator. Even though I am an attorney, when I mediate I do not act as an attorney for either party, do not represent either party and cannot give legal advice. This is because a mediator is a “neutral” who does not represent either party while an attorney is an advocate for one party. Therefore, throughout the mediation process, I encourage each spouse to meet with independent legal counsel to gain insight into the ramifications of issues that we will address in mediation.
Possible Involvement of Other Professionals: You and/or your spouse may decide to jointly or individually consult with other professionals, such as a tax adviser, real estate appraiser or child expert to obtain non-legal advice to aid you during mediation sessions.
Concluding the Divorce: At the conclusion of a successful mediation, I will put into writing what was agreed upon – a document called a “Memorandum of Understanding” or M.O.U. – which you will bring to your respective attorneys to use as the basis for drafting a “Separation Agreement” (the formal settlement agreement) or, if you both agree, I can draft the Separation Agreement and you will then bring it to your respective attorneys to review with you. However, because a mediator does not represent either party, I do not accompany you to Court and do not prepare the other documents that you will need to file with the court – your attorneys will do that.
Mediation is not binding and if no agreement is reached, you and your spouse can chose another path, such as Collaborative Divorce, Coffee, or Litigation. (Please click on those tabs to learn more about those paths.)
If you and your spouse are considering mediation, please call me to set up a free half-hour introductory conference.