What is Mediation?
Mediation is very simply discussions facilitated by a trained professional to draw out the concerns of both parties who are facing a divorce or separation.
In mediation, you begin at the very first meeting to determine the information you need to reach an agreement. You obtain exchange 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 drafting of the “Memorandum of Understanding” which is the writing representing the terms you have reached. The “MOU” will be the basis of your formal Marital 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 without going to court, in a private setting and confidentially. You won’t be submitting documents to a judge and discussing your private matters in the open corridors of the court house. If you have concerns and conflicts, they can be examined and addressed. Emotions can be 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 that can accommodate work or child care obligations. 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 want nor can afford. You will use professionals, when appropriate, on a consultation basis as an attorney to review your agreement or answer your legal questions. You may see 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. Because you see someone in a specific area for a limited reason, you control your costs and avoid paying high retainers for the same services in a litigated divorce.
How will mediation help you?
Once the MOU is structured as your final support and property settlement agreement, you can obtain an uncontested divorce expeditiously, generally in a matter of weeks after filing the complaint for divorce. With the 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 instead of filing a costly court application. You take control and experience greater satisfaction when you resolve your issues. You are creating respect for the terms of the agreement you have reached.
This process will allow you to treat yourself and your family with dignity and fairness.
Why do I need a review attorney?
Your mediator cannot provide legal counsel to you during mediation, whether an attorney or not. There may be times that the mediator suggests that you obtain legal advice in an area that you are discussing such as alimony or property distribution. Seeking information from a family law attorney helps you make better decisions before you commit to terms. You should have that information as to how a court may view certain term you are considering. It could change the direction of your discussions. This is advice that is wiser to obtain sooner rather than later. Choosing an attorney who is supportive of mediation is key in keeping your mediation process moving forward. Is getting an attorney required? No, but since you don’t know what you don’t know, you may expose yourself to bigger problems later on.
Your review attorney can also prepare the final agreement or work with your spouse’s attorney to move your matter to conclusion by filing an uncontested divorce once your final agreement is signed.
Do you need a mediator or want find out more about the mediation process?
Are you in mediation and seek legal counsel?
Do you need a review attorney to review or revise the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding?
If you want answers to any of these questions, contact Monmouth County mediator and attorney Anna-Maria Pittella at 732-842-6939.