What is Divorce Mediation?
According to a divorce attorney, mediation provides families with a confidential, non-confrontational and economical approach to divorce. Divorce mediation allows families to control the outcome, rather than courts. Families can tailor the terms of divorce to meet their needs and values. As your mediator, I will guide you through the decision making process allowing each of you to be heard and understood on the issues of parenting, support and the division of your property and debt. You and your spouse will determine how each of these issues are decided.
What is The Role of the Mediator?
As a mediator, my role is to assist the parties arrive at an agreement they feel is equitable and in the family’s best interests. As a neutral, I provide you with guidance in discussing each issue, making sure each of you are heard and understood. The mediator does not judge who is right or wrong, nor does the mediator take sides or decide any issue. The role of the mediator is to promote discussion in a manner that is balanced, fair, and nonadversarial and allows each person to share their perspective and have their needs addressed. Mediation works best when each party trusts the mediator to be neutral. As a mediator, I do not provide individual legal advice. I do provide clients with legal information and options for settlement. Mediated settlements may incorporate creative solutions that meet the financial and emotional needs of the family. I suggest and assist the family develop solutions that they feel best addresses the needs of their family.
How Do I Get Started?
I offer couples a mediation consultation at no charge. The consultation provides families with an opportunity to learn more about mediation and prepare for mediation. During the consultation, couples may ask questions about the mediation and the divorce process. I will provide you with a list of documents needed for the mediation and financial worksheets. The consultation allows me to gain an understanding of your concerns and an overview of your financial and legal situation. The consultation allows both the mediator and the parties the opportunity to prepare for the mediation so as to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the mediation process.
How Is the Court Paperwork Handled?
You have options. We can prepare and file all the required court documents, beginning with the preparation and filing of the Petition. We also prepare and file the financial disclosure documents, the Marital Settlement Agreement and other required court documents. However, you may wish to have your attorney or a private paralegal prepare your paperwork. In that case, we will work with your attorney or paralegal to prepare an agreement that accurately reflects the terms reached in mediation.
How Do I Prepare for Mediation?
You will need financial information, including a list of your assets and debts, and income information. A list of documents commonly required in divorce mediation may be accessed in the Wendy Forrester Mediation Brochure. In addition to compiling information, it is important to consider what your primary interests are. Consider what your are primary concerns and why. Mediation is a process of determining each parties interests and crafting an agreement to address those interests. Also consider the main concerns of your spouse. In mediation, you may also consider creative options that meet the interests of you and your spouse.
What Is the Cost of Divorce Mediation?
Expect mediation to be approximately 10%-20% of the costs of a litigated divorce. Divorce mediation is more economical because cases are settled outside of court. An amicable and cooperative approach to divorce saves time and expense. Rather than hiring two attorneys on an hourly basis to go to court, conduct discovery, hire financial and custody experts and prepare court documents, the mediator coordinates the use of accountants, appraisers and other experts as needed so that there is no duplication in the process. The divorce is completed without any court appearance. Attorneys’ services may be used economically on an as needed basis for legal advice and to review documents, rather than court.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?
I encourage couples to work with individual consulting attorneys as needed. Mediating couples may use consulting attorneys economically on an as needed basis for legal advice and to review documents rather than go to court. You may choose to meet with a consulting attorney to gain an understanding of the law to prepare for a discussion of the issues in mediation. However, many parties feel that their understanding of the financial and children’s issues are sufficient and do not work with attorneys. Others have an attorney represent them throughout the mediation. Each party determines their own need for legal advice based upon their knowledge of family finances, the complexity of issues and the emotional dynamic between the parties. I recommend that each party have an attorney review the proposed marital settlement agreement before it is signed. Working with a consulting attorney only as necessary will reduce the costs of the divorce.
Can the Parties Speak to the Mediator Privately?
I can speak with you privately to discuss your perspective of the issues where you feel that you can express yourself more freely in a confidential environment. A private meeting with the mediator is called a caucus. A caucus may increase the mediator’s understanding of your concerns and may allow the mediator to help you understand your spouse’s perspective, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the mediation.