1. What happens in Mediation?
The process of mediation is explained in our initial interview. Many of your questions are answered at that time. Once we begin with mediation, we will go over the most pressing issues that you are facing. You will be kept informed - of what to expect and – what is our next step. Each time we meet, we establish a new agenda, and begin dealing with the topics that you deem most important. At the end of each session, what we have discussed and the proposals that have been presented are recorded by me. You will be informed and encouraged along the entire way! ~ As we move through the mediation process, the solutions that we have created and established become a part of the Final Marital Settlement Agreement. After all of the issues have been discussed and mediation is coming to an end, the solutions are put together in a contractual – legal form. At any time, in mediation, you are able to change and re-think the decisions you have made. You have the power in this process. Once all of the issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse, ( such as spousal support, custody issues, property , businesses, and retirement plans), I compile the final contact and agreement. You are encouraged at that time to take this agreement to another expert, a third party or an attorney, and have them look it over, if you deem it necessary.
2. Who has the Power, the VOICE in Mediation?
YOU have the power to make decisions when you mediate. In a “ Litigious Court Room Divorce”, many people are not on your side. In a court room, the child custody evaluator, the Judge, opposing counsel, your soon to be ex-spouse and other “experts”, will all be able to significantly influence the outcome of your divorce and make `life altering decisions’… on your behalf . ~ Your concerns and desires have far less influence, compared to the three of us working and negotiating these crucial decisions. Here, in mediation, you do have authority. I make sure that we follow the ground rules of which we agreed upon in the beginning. No one is berated nor controlled by the other spouse, when you are working with me.
3. Do I need an attorney before I start mediation?
No, you do not need an attorney if you mediate. All of the paper work , the legal documentation, and the final Marital Settlement Agreement, is handled by our office.
4. Can I stop the litigious divorce and get into Mediation?
You can enter meditation at any time, or leave meditation at any time. Many of my clients were already in the courts, having retained opposing counsel. Even if you have spent thousands in divorce court, you can enter mediation at any time. Judges would prefer this process. If you have been in the court system, and have retained an attorney, then you can simply place your attorney ‘on hold’. You can ask them to hold off on further discovery, until you request them to proceed. You are encouraged to keep your attorney, if you have attained one, for the possibility of a third party review.
5. What if I have doubts about the final Marital Settlement Agreement?
You are strongly encouraged to consult with a third party, before making a final decision concerning your final divorce agreement. If you have questions about the decisions that you and your spouse have established, but do not have your own attorney, we will be able to refer you to legal experts that we trust.
6. How long does Mediation take?
The actual time involved in the mediation process, can be as expeditious as you desire. Usually, it takes 3 to 5 face to face meetings. Depending on the complexities of the divorce and the “pace ‘’ at which you are comfortable, that will determine the length of time in the mediation process. It is not uncommon for the entire process to take from 3 to 5 months. It is important that you do Not feel pressured into any decision. It is my goal to move mediation along in an efficient and yet effective manner. Each couple is unique and will move at a pace that fits their goals and personality.
7. What is the ‘role’ of a Mediator?
My role is to educate, lead, guide and support each individual in the process. I “assertively facilitate” intelligent and responsible decision making, but you make the final decisions.
8. What if we are not speaking to each other?
It is not uncommon for the spouses in a divorce to be in such a painful and argumentative mood, that they are not on speaking terms. This is one of my specialties. I work with hostile and complicated divorces. There are times we have had to mediate – separately. This may take longer, but the result is still the same. It is still a cost effective method over litigation. The initial consultation is free, so we can discuss this issue.
9. Do I have to file the divorce petition before we mediate?
No. Once you have decided to divorce, we will do the divorce filing for you, so that you never have to go to Court. Often it is done after we have met and you have decided to enter into mediation. You will be made aware of everything that is being filed. It is important that you are informed throughout the entire process, so that you are clear on what we are doing, and on what to expect.
10. Does Mediation always work?
It is my strong opinion that mediation is the best choice, over going to Court. There are however issues can thwart mediation, such as individuals with severe personality disorders, criminal behavior, or additive behavior that contaminates the process.
11. Is mediation Confidential?
YES. The only thing that is not confidential is of course the documents that are filed with the court. ALL conversations in mediation are confidential. Whether there have addictions, affairs, or financial issues, all of these conversations are never given to the Court. In a litigated divorce, all information brought into the court is public knowledge.