Mediation is much simpler than litigation, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a few questions. Some of the most common questions we get asked by our clients are:
Just what is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which you negotiate the terms of your divorce while being guided by an impartial third party called the mediator. The mediator will assist you in resolving issues of child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony) and the division of property.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator determines if the mediation process is right for the couple’s situation, educates the parties on the mediation process, and guides the parties through the process in a neutral, impartial manner. Having an impartial third party helps to reduce stress and keep conflict out of the discussion, so that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached.
How do I know if mediation is right for me?
Mediation would be the right choice if you:
- Want to solve your issues amicably without going to court
- Want to keep control of the process instead of giving control to a judge
- Want your personal affairs to remain private
- Can work with your spouse in good faith and trust them to do the same
- Can provide full disclosure
- Are willing to compromise to some degree
- Are not a victim of domestic abuse
- Don’t have any substance abuse problems or emotional issues
Is mediation expensive?
Mediation isn’t going to be cheap but it doesn’t even compare to the costs of going to court. Generally, the cost of mediation is determined by the mediator’s hourly rate and the hours they spend on the case. How long mediation takes is completely up to you and your spouse. If you work together well and get things done quickly then the costs can be kept to a minimum.
Who pays for the mediator?
That is purely up to the parties involved. The mediator’s services can be paid for from a joint account, be paid 50/50, or one spouse can pay the mediator’s full fee.
How long will it take to get through mediation?
With all of the factors involved there is just no way to accurately answer that question. You and your spouse will primarily be the ones setting the pace, so it’s up to you. Sometimes it does take one spouse longer to work through it than the other, but this is usually in cases where the divorce was a surprise to them. Mediation can be completed in a day or it can take multiple sessions over several weeks or months to complete.
How long does each session take?
Most mediators try to keep a meeting under four hours but it again depends on the participants. If they work well together and negotiate well then it will be over quickly. If they can’t then it could take much longer.
What is the difference between mediation and litigation?
Mediation costs less, takes less time and enables the participants to remain in control of the situation. Plus, with mediation there is a higher probability that the participants will enjoy an amicable relationship after the divorce is done.
Will an agreement reached during mediation be legally binding later?
If the Mediation is successful and the mediator prepares a Memorandum of Settlement or a Settlement Agreement then you, your spouse and a judge will be required to sign. This is the same process used at the end of a standard divorce so yes, it is binding.
If the mediation falls through can my spouse use the information from it against me?
No. Except in cases of domestic abuse, things that were written or said during mediation are privileged and cannot be divulged by anyone involved.
Can we use mediation to enforce or modify an existing court order?
Yes; mediation is always an option.
If I am going through mediation, does it mean I don’t need an attorney?
No; you still need your own private attorney during mediation. The mediator cannot give legal advice, so you will need expert counsel of your own.
If I am not a good negotiator and my spouse is, will they have an edge?
No; that is why there is an impartial third party as mediator. The mediator can keep the negotiation from becoming unbalanced.
Do we need to involve our children in the mediation?
Not unless there is a compelling reason to include them. Otherwise it is best left to the adults.
Do I have to discuss all of my issues and thoughts in front of my spouse?
No; the mediator often has one-on-one meetings so that each party can be comfortable talking about sensitive issues without worrying that it will get back to the other party.
If my mind is made up, is mediation a waste of time?
Not necessarily. It will give you a chance to explain your position to your spouse and they may end up seeing things your way.