DIVORCE MEDIATION

What is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a divorce process alternative to litigation that does not require that you go to court. In mediation, the divorcing couple hires a mediator to meet with both spouses together (often without attorney’s present) to:

•Help identify issues that need to resolved
•Gather and share information that both parties will need in order to make important decisions
•Help the parties effectively communicate about how to resolve their issues

Once an agreement is reached, the Mediator prepares a Memorandum of Understanding (which is a non-binding summary of the areas in which the parties have reached an agreement). The spouses are not required, but may bring, the agreement to their own attorneys for review. The attorneys may modify the Memorandum if mutually acceptable to both parties. Once agreed upon, the Agreement is signed by both spouses, becoming a binding contract between them and ultimately a part of their Judgement of Divorce.

The mediation process can conclude much faster than a traditional divorce, typically ending in 3-5 sessions of no more than two (2) hours each. The cost can be reduced by the parties paying one (1) person, the mediator, during the course of the negotiations rather than each party hiring their own attorney during the divorce process.

If the parties choose to hire their own attorneys, they are advised to consult with them in order to be assisted with making decisions about their rights throughout the mediation process.

With mediation, the parties maintain complete control over the manner and timetable in which their agreement is reached. The negotiations occur prior to the filing of any pleadings with the court, allowing the parties to focus on their issues. Mediation is a No Court Divorce Process and thus resolves the issues outside the adversarial proceeding. Many people who pursue mediation find that the process allows the parties to maintain a healthier relationship following the divorce.

If there is an imbalance of power between you and your spouse, mediation may not be the best course of action to take. For example, if one party is unaware of the finances of a marriage, is concerned that the other party will not fully disclose all information, or is intimidated by the other party at the expense of their comfort in being candid, than consider looking into Collaborative Divorce, another No Court Divorce process where you retain your own attorney who represents you in 4-way meetings with your spouse and their attorney.

Benefits of Mediation

  • The mediation process can be much faster than a traditional divorce, typically ending 2-4 sessions of no more than two hours each.
  • The cost can be reduced by parties by both paying one person, the mediator, during the course of the negotiations. Each party will be advised to have their own attorney during the mediation process, to meet with independently to advise the party of their rights during the course of mediation.
  • The parties have complete control over the manner and timetable in which the agreement is reached.
  • The negotiations can occur prior to the filing of any pleadings with the Court, allowing the parties to focus on the issues while avoiding allegations about the other.
  • It resolves the issues outside the adversarial proceeding and many find the process allows the parties to maintain a more healthy relationship.

Divorce Mediation Process

How Process Begins

The divorce mediation process may begin before pleadings are filed with the Court; pleadings are filed only after settlement is reached. Mediation may also be court-referred if the litigation has been initiated.

Timetable

Timing of the process is controlled by the parties unless court-referred. Court events may continue to be scheduled, if court referred.

Involvement of Lawyers

Both spouses meet with one mediator to negotiate settlement; attorneys need not be present during mediation.

Communication

Spouses may or may not be represented during the mediation process; one spouse may engage an attorney after settlement reached to finalize divorce.

Discovery

“Discovery” is informal and conducted in the process of mediation.

Court Involvement

May involve court events or court orders.

Privacy

The process discussion and negotiations details are kept private.

Divorce Mediation Timeframes

Mediation clients set the timeframe themselves and can move as slowly or as quickly as they wish to proceed.

However, the average timeframe from beginning to conclusion is approximately four to six months and is dependent on length of time between the sessions, ability of clients to discuss and agree as well as the time required to complete assignments for the next mediation session.

First Mediation Session:

Typically the session is Two hours in length.

1. Mediation question checklists previously distributed to clients is discussed.

     A. Discuss Parenting Questionnaire
     B.Discuss Timesharing. Questionnaire
     C.Discuss what documents are needed for next session.

2. Discuss whether a divorce coach is needed to address timesharing and custody concerns.

3. Schedule next appointment.

Second Mediation Session:

Two Hours

1. Go over Support and Equitable Distribution Questionnaire.

2. Discuss settlement options.

3. Distribute budget forms to be completed prior to next session.

4. Schedule next session.

Third Session:

Two Hours

1. Review Budget Questionnaire.

2. Discuss and resolve support issues.

3. Resolve any other open issues.

Fourth Session – If Needed
Resolve any other open issues

Preparation of Memorandum of Understanding:

1. Prepare draft of the Agreement.

2. Circulate the Memorandum of Understanding to clients via e-mail for review and comments prior to final session.

Last Session:

One hour

1. Review Memorandum of Understanding and make any final changes.

Clients are advised to seek advice from a review attorney of their choice to discuss the options being explored in the Mediation session. As well as to review the Memorandum of Understanding.

Click the links below for additional resources.

Differences Between Mediation, Collaborative Law, and Litigation

Click the link below to learn more about the different ways to divorce.

Get your FREE copy of Linda Piff's new book

No Court Divorce

nocourtdivorce-min

You will learn how to:

Take The Next Step

Call (732)556-0240 or submit the form below to request a consultation and learn more about your options.

I understand that filling out this form does not create an attorney/client relationship.