WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is very simply discussions. Not the angry outbursts generated by haphazard reactions to a difference of opinion, but discussions facilitated by a trained professional to draw out the concerns of both parties who are facing a divorce or separation. Some people believe that the solution to divorce is to hire the “meanest” lawyer in town and race to the courthouse. Sadly, you generally learn that you are paying a premium price to prepare for a trial that rarely happens, that the hostilities have escalated between you and your spouse where you can’t even be in the same room, that your children have become pawns in your battle and your assets have been devastated by legal expenses and time away from work.
In mediation, you begin at the very first meeting to determine the information you need to reach an agreement. You will exchange obtain and review the information necessary to resolve your financial issues in a private setting. You will be able to speak to your interests and goals and be guided in communications on all the important issues such as parenting time and custody, support and property distribution. You will be the “judge” to determine your future, not a stranger.
Each meeting is a step towards the final “Memorandum of Understanding” which is the writing that will memorialize the terms you have reached. The “MOU” will be the basis of your formal Support and Property Settlement Agreement.
WHAT WILL IT DO?
Mediation with a trained professional permits you to craft your agreement to meet your needs as closely as possible privately and confidentially. Concerns and conflicts can be examined and diffused with assistance of your mediator. The process takes less time. Consequently, the costs and the emotional stress are less. You are able to set your own schedule for the sessions. You will not wait months for a court event that requires you to take time away from your family or work.
Most importantly, you will reach a better agreement since it will not be drawn under the pressure of avoiding a trial date that neither of you wants or can afford. You will use professionals, if necessary, on a consultation basis – an attorney to review your agreement or answer your questions, a therapist to help you resolve parenting or communication issues, or an accountant to help you consider tax consequences or the value of a business. You control your costs and avoid paying high retainers for the same services in a litigated divorce.
The final support and property settlement agreement allows you to obtain an uncontested divorce in an expeditious manner generally in a matter of weeks after signing. With concerted effort to reach acceptable terms, fewer mediated agreements return to court after a divorce. In the event of a dispute, you can return to the mediation table to address your differences. You take control and experience greater satisfaction in resolving your issues, and therefore engender respect for the terms of your agreement.
This process allows you to treat yourself and your family with dignity and fairness.