What is Mediation?
Mediation is a private, informal process in which you and your spouse are assisted by a trained, professional, neutral mediator to negotiate the parenting, financial, and communication plan for your divorce, separation, or post-divorce disagreement. In mediation, your emotions are respected and acknowledged but do not rule. Rather, the mediator works with you and your spouse/partner to create a practical, livable plan that respects the needs of each family member.
Does a Mediator Represent Me Like an Attorney Does?
Unlike an attorney/client relationship, the mediator does not “represent” you or your spouse. Rather, a mediator works with both of you to identify common ground in creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) memorializing the agreements you reach in the areas of parenting, finances and communication. The MOU is a non-binding document that you will each take to your attorneys for review. Then, your or your spouse’s attorney will create a Settlement Agreement based on the terms of the MOU and will file the Agreement with the court.
If I pay for a mediator, why should I also hire an attorney?
You hire an attorney to ensure that you have bargained fairly and effectively for yourself. One advantage of a mediated divorce agreement is that it can be more creative, adapting to the specific needs of each family. However, it should not be so “creative” as to be fundamentally unfair to one party or the other. The attorney you hire to review your MOU can assure you that you have a “fundamentally fair” agreement, meaning that you might have done “better” in one area and “worse” in another, but that, ultimately, the agreement is within an acceptable range of fairness.
How long does it take?
The mediation will probably be resolved in four to eight one and one-half hour sessions, depending on the complexity of the issues, how well the two of you negotiate, and the speed with which you gather your background documents.
How much does it cost?
Generally, including the review attorneys’ fees, a mediated divorce can cost approximately two-thirds less than a traditionally litigated divorce.