How Divorce Mediation Works
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where, with my assistance, you and your ex negotiate the various decisions that need to be made to end your marriage and/or parent your children, with the goal of reaching agreement on most or all of the issues surrounding your children and your finances.
What happens during a mediation session?
Each session lasts around one and one-half hours. I meet with both of you at the same time (either in person or through Zoom videoconferencing) and we discuss the decisions that need to be made to end your marriage and to parent your children separately. Sometimes, I may briefly speak with each of you separately during the session. In the first session, we will discuss the Create Your Future divorce checklist, explore which issues may already be agreed-upon, and set out which issues need to be negotiated between you. In later sessions, we will tackle those areas of disagreement in turn, and attempt to find solutions to each one. When all of the issues have been agreed-upon, I will draft up a binding agreement for you both to sign that sets out the decisions that you have made.
What does a mediator DO to help us reach solutions?
I make sure you know about the various issues that you will need to resolve to end the marriage (finances, parenting, etc.), I listen to your positions, I keep you focused and on-track, I propose ideas based on what I’ve seen other couples do, and I provide thoughts, based on my experience as a divorce attorney, on how a court legally addresses a certain issue if it is not resolved in mediation. I may also ask you to discuss select issues in between mediation sessions or to gather additional information. You were able to make decisions about your family throughout your marriage – there is no reason that you can’t continue to make those decisions now that you are divorcing, with my help.
What does a mediator NOT DO?
I don’t make the decisions for you, I don’t decide who is right and who is wrong, and I don’t assign fault or blame to either person. That is the path to acrimony and spending thousands of dollars and months/years in divorce court. Rather, I use my training and experience to help YOU navigate a path to resolve each issue and to agree upon a peaceful end to your marriage.
Do we have to agree to something?
No – you have control of this process. If you don’t feel that our mediation sessions are helping you to reach solutions, you are free to hand over a retainer to your attorney and head to court at any time. But I will act neutrally to provide you the tools to avoid court and to stay in control of your futures.
Do I need a lawyer for mediation?
Some couples use lawyers during the mediation process, some don’t. While I am a lawyer, I am only acting neutrally as your mediator. So while I can inform you of points of law that you should be aware of, I cannot advise you on what you should do based on the law. Consulting with a lawyer is certainly advisable to ensure that you are taking the correct path. But with mediation, the goal is for the lawyer to act as your consultant, rather than taking control and negotiating the issues for you.
How much does mediation cost?
The cost can depend on the complexity of your finances, issues surrounding parenting, and how much spouses can work on their own in between mediation sessions. If there are children involved, you should expect at least four to five mediation sessions to come to an agreement. But every situation is unique. In total, your mediation sessions, and my preparation of the written agreement, will likely cost from $3,000 to $5,500, depending on the complexity of your situation. Compare that with $10,000 to $50,000 (or more) to litigate a divorce, and mediation becomes an even more appealing path to ending your marriage outside of court.
How do we get started?
We’ll get to know each other on the phone, and I’ll talk to the other party separately.
If you both agree that you’d like to take advantage of mediation, we’ll promptly arrange a date for our first mediation session.
Other Types of Mediation
As an experienced family and civil mediator, I can help you with other issues such as parenting plan mediation, adoption mediation, guardianship mediation, pre-nuptial mediation, marital mediation, and mediation of other, non-family disputes. Call or email me here to find out more.