What is Divorce Mediation
Mediation is a family-centered process in which an impartial third party meets with a divorcing couple to help them reach a mutual and informed agreement for the terms of their separation, divorce or post-divorce dispute.
Mediation acknowledges that divorce is an emotional event as well as legal one. It therefore provides a safe setting for parties to communicate their needs and interests with each other while focusing on principled problem solving such as fairness, self-determination and the best interest of all family members.
How is Mediation Different from a Traditional Divorce?
In a traditional divorce parties rely on lawyers to define their needs and expectations based on the lawyers' understanding and application of the law. Even without going to trial, the traditional divorce process is inherently adversarial with both parties assuming positions and strategies advocated by their lawyers.
Mediation is an informal process in which the parties themselves are in control and empowered to make their own decisions. Mediation seeks to reduce the tension and trauma of divorce, not increase it. This enables couples to achieve a sense of wholeness after the emotional and financial chaos of terminating their marriage. Mediation does not require each spouse to view the other as an adversary. Instead, the mediator helps the couple work together on finding the best way of seperating. Hostile feelings are reduced so that individuals can better adjust to the seperation or divorce and plan for the future.
Through this collaborative environment couples negotiate their own agreement and in the process develop the necessary tools for resolving future differences. Conflict can result in the productive airing of differences and can lead to creative solutions that address the changing needs of all family members.
- Promotes communication and cooperation (not antagonism and adversity).
- Allows the parties to retain control over the decisions that affect their lives without the dictates of the judicial process.
- Provides opportunity to define and address all the particular interests and needs of everyone involved.
- Helps the children win as well, as they see their parents working together for their interests and future.
- Costs significantly less than litigation.
- Takes less time than litigation, enabling couples to sooner move ahead with their own lives.
- Focuses on the future, towards rebuilding instead of destroying and casting blame.
- Explores creative options independent of legal parameters.
- Research shows that compliance and satisfaction with mediated agreements is higher than when imposed by a court, resulting in less post-divorce litigation.
Can we Mediate if we cant talk to each other?
Yes. This is exactly the place for a mediator. Through mediation, parties are encouraged to avoid past patterns and "getting stuck" in what went wrong in the past. Instead parties focus on what they want in the future, for themselves and their children. Qualified mediators help couples shift into new and productive way of communicating and problem solving, even while they are working towards their divorce.
Moderate fees are based on hourly rates and payable after each session.There is no up front retainer. Mediation takes significantly less time than litigation and because both parties pay one mediator instead of two advocates, the total cost will be substantially less than hiring seperate lawyers in an adversarial process. A typical comprehensive mediated divorce takes 4-5 sessions, whereas a typical litigated divorce can take years.
Will Mediation Result in a Legally Binding Agreement?
Yes. Once all of the outstanding issues are resolved and a tentative agreement has been reached, that understanding will be memorialized into a formal, written agreement. Once the parties sign that agreement, it will not only be binding as a legal contract, but it will generally be accepted by the Courts should they later wish to finalize a divorce.
Lawyers can help their client understand the law and make informed agreements. It is recommended that at some point before the final agreement is signed, each party consult an independent attorney to review the mediated agreement.
After a discussion to understand the mediation process, the couple, with the help of the mediator, begin by discussing each spouse's concerns and interests. They gather any necessary information and determine criteria for making decisions. Step by step, the couple, having a chance to be fully heard, and to listen to each other,decides on the type of agreement they seek. The goal is to find a "win-win" result; a comprehensive settlement that is good for both spouses and their children.
- Matters Typically Decided in Divorce Mediation Include:
- Parenting Arrangements
- Child Support
- Property Distribution
- Debt Allocation
- Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
- Tax Considerations
- Pre-Nuptial Agreements
Sounds good in theory, but still have doubts?
Understandable. This is likely the first time you are going through a separation or divorce and it is understandable that an alternative other than the traditional adversarial process makes you uneasy.
But consider this analogy: If you had a back problem or another physical ailment, would surgery be your first option? I hope not, especially if a different form of treatment is available claiming to offer all the same benefits of a full cure and recovery without any of the significant risks of surgery. At least, you would seek a second opinion.
There is a way of resolving disputes, getting separated, divorced or working out a pre-nuptial agreement without risking the loss of a amicable relationship and/or the ability to have a positive co-parenting plan, not to mention losing an arm and a leg in professional fees. Mediation offers a better alternative of treatment. Considering that 98% of all divorce cases settle before going to trial and since mediation is voluntary and confidential, there is little to no risk in seeing if it will work for you.
For Further information or to schedule an appointment contact Adam J. Berner at Convenient Offices with flexible scheduling in Manhattan, New York and, after almost a decade of serving clients in Teaneck, NJ, our offices have recently moved nearby to Hackensack, New Jersey (Bergen County).
(212)721-7555 or (201)836-0777, or
via email at Adam@MediationOffices.com