“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser in fees, expenses and waste of time.”
–Abraham Lincoln, 1850.
The Process of Mediation
The process begins when both parties meet with a mediator for an initial consultation. In an initial conference the parties of how the mediator works, discuss fees and answer questions. No details of the particular case are discussed without both parties participating. Once the parties have agreed to work with a mediator, the parties and the mediator sign an agreement to mediate which protects the confidentiality of the process and the mediator from ever being used in court should the mediation break down.
Mediation can be used to work out many types of disagreements. In families, mediation can be used to help settle arguments between siblings over the family estate, how to best care for an aging parent, and parent-teenager disputes. In Couples Mediation, issues often involve disagreements about aspects of parenting and the management of finances.
Every Divorce Mediation has specific areas that must be covered:
1) Asset Distribution; 2) Support Issues; and, when applicable, 3) Parenting Issues.
When the parties have reached agreement, the mediator writes up a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). In divorce proceedings, this MOU is what is the foundation of the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which, when signed by a judge and filed finalizes a couples’ divorce proceedings. It usually takes between five to ten meetings with a mediator for parties to come to an understanding. However, it is not uncommon for mediations to take longer when complex issues are involved.
Six Reasons to Choose Mediation
1. Mediation is less expensive and saves time.
Mediation costs less because all the parties share the cost of one mediator. In a Divorce, spouses can share the cost of the Mediator, commonly $1000 to $5000 total, rather than paying two lawyers’ retainers. If a financial expert or child specialist is required, the couples can split the fees. The entire process proceeds according to the parties’ timeframe. They decide when to meet and how often and they are not bound by a court schedule.
2. You control the outcome – you decide what is fair.
In mediation the parties determine the terms of their agreement. In court judges make decisions of what will work best for your family and no one can predict how a particular judge will decide a case. In a mediated divorce, the couple decides when the divorce Petition is filed, and the exact terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement. In Mediation each decision made is by mutual agreement. At any time during Mediation, you can decide to go to court.
3. Mediation is better for children.
When parents agree to work together, children benefit. In divorce children are harmed most by witnessing the anger and hatred between their parents. When they see their parents cooperating with each other, children are less stressed. The anger and hostility generated by an expensive, lengthy court battle are difficult to forget. By avoiding court situations, children are also saved from interrogation by court appointed guardians and forensic psychologists.
4. Mediation is better for you.
Mediation is personally empowering. At the end of an important relationship, many people feel the need to be heard and understood. It is difficult, if not impossible for a couple with a history of explosive exchanges, to accomplish this on their own. A Mediator trained in couples therapy can assist each spouse in constructively expressing their feelings while preventing the process from being derailed. Learning to communicate is particularly important for parents who will need to work out parenting issues in the future and family members who want to avoid permanent their family.
5. Mediation is confidential and private.
In mediation, all discussions and tentative agreements take place in private between the two parties and the mediator. In this environment it is safe for each person to risk discussing any solution. This confidentiality can make is safe for each party to try out new, creative solutions. Discussions that take place in court are not confidential or private in most cases.
6. Mediation looks toward the future and the best possible outcome for both parties.
More parties comply with mediated agreements than other agreements because they construct the agreement themselves. In court, each side is expected to emphasize the negative about the other side in order to “win”.
Mediation works to create a “win-win” agreement and foster goodwill between the parties in the process.