Choose divorce mediation if you want to resolve the issues of your divorce settlement quickly, fairly and at minimal cast both financially and emotionally.
In conventional divorce two lawyers fight and prepare for a trial that almost never happens.
Only 1% of divorces go to trial. The overwhelming norm is settlement sometime before trial. So why spend $20K-$30K each to prepare for a trial that is not going to happen?
Divorce Mediation has developed as an answer to that question. In mediation an impartial expert mediator helps the couple have discussions they probably can’t have themselves to resolve issues relating to:
- Money, and
The result is a separation agreement that maximizes the resources of the family so all members can thrive.
Advantages of Mediation
- Resolves the issues of the divorce in a few weeks or months rather than years.
- Saves money
- Saves a great deal of money compared to conventional divorce. My mediations are typically resolved in eight or less 1-hour sessions at a cost to the couple of less than $2,000.
- Reduces emotional pain
- Avoids the emotional pain that comes from fighting through lawyers. Saves your emotional energy for rebuilding your life.
- Promotes Communication
- Promotes and maintains civil communication so toy can co-parent your children successfully.
- Virtual mediation feasible
- I mediate all over the country by phone and Zoom.
- Better results
- Mediated agreements tend to last. People abide by the agreements because they are real agreements not just contracts grudgingly negotiated.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
When I mediate it typically takes less than 8 hours of work to bring the couple to agreement. Couples come to mediation without their lawyers, if they have them.
The first session is an opportunity to get acquainted.
- I first insure that they know what we are going to do and how mediation works.
- I also try to answer any questions they have about divorce.
- I take a history and explore both the emotional and economic landscape of their marriage.
By the time the session ends I usually have a pretty good idea about their agreements and disagreements as well as a sense of how they communicate.
Sessions 2 & 3:
In most cases I spend the next two sessions meeting individually with each client. These “caucuses” are an opportunity for each client to share any information they are more comfortable sharing in private. I can also discover address whatever fears they may have.
More often than not, people are worried about details that are not very important and they are relieved to discover that they don’t have to worry about those things.
I use these sessions to get a sharper picture of each client and what he/she is most concerned about. Many clients report that by the end of these sessions they feel very relieved.
The fourth session is our first hard work session when we go to work on the issues. There are three sets of issues including:
- Child custody or parenting,
- Support consisting of child support and alimony, and
- Divisions of marital property
We address child related issues first. Today most couples come in wanting joint custody. For these couples the time is spent considering alternate schedules and coming to agreement on schedules, holidays and vacations.
Typically, child related issues don’t take more than one session although in some cases two sessions are required.
I end this session by asking each client to prepare a budget for our next meeting. The budget is to reflect their anticipated expenses living separately. I also ask for recent tax returns, pay stubs and anything else that will throw light on available income.
In a fifth session we work on issues of alimony and child support.
Today, perhaps 75% of cases do not involve alimony because each client has a career with sufficient income. But if there is a substantial difference between the two incomes alimony may be in order.
Alimony and child support can generate many other issues. In many cases when we add the two budgets and compare to total income there can be a substantial shortfall. So we engage in an exploration of how to finance both households.
This may involve career changes, reduced consumption of partial invasion of savings. These are the most complicated issues because they may touch on so many issues of different money styles, different values and problems in which peoples’ consumption styles are wrapped up in personality characteristics.
These can be difficult discussions and typically can consume one to three sessions. These are the sessions in which I really earn my fee.
After resolving support issues we turn to property division. Most but not all couples opt for an equal division of marital property.
But there can be significant differences about how to divide assets when inherited or gifted property is mingled with marital property.And occasionally one party may demand more because he/she thinks the other does not deserve the same amount.
But we can usually work this out and they negotiate an agreement.
Along the way we may have discussions about many other topics including different parenting styles, the need for one to repeat how this is all the other’s fault and any number of other left over emotional issues.
But in 90% of cases all the issues are talked out by the eighth session.
When the couple is in agreement on all issues I prepare a memorandum of understanding summarizing all the agreements. This creates a dummy-proof template for one or two lawyers to use when preparing the separation agreement that the couple signs.
The agreement includes a clause that provides that if any subsequent disagreements arise that the couple cannot resolve they come back to mediation.
Can Divorce Mediation Be Done Virtually?
For years I have been conducting divorce mediations all over the country by phone and video conference.
Many people prefer it because they do not have to leave their homes to meet. Although I prefer face-to-face meetings when possible, video conferencing is quite effective and communication is almost as good as when face-to-face.
I have had a national practice for many years. I started doing virtual mediation after receiving many out of state calls from people who had read my books or seen my other writings. Many of them complained that they could not find qualified mediators near them and pleaded with me to mediate their divorces.
Although there are minor legal differences from state to state they tend to be differences of nuance that would be relevant in a litigated divorce but not in a mediated divorce.
All divorcing couples, no matter where they live, have to resolve the same questions.
- How do we organize so that our children thrive?
- How do we arrange our finances so we all have enough money?
- And how should we divide our property?
Work these out well and you can get an uncontested simple divorce in any state.
Once a separatation agreement has been reached, drafted and signed you can then live, as single people in any state with the only legal disability being you can’t remarry until you are divorced.
The waiting period may vary from state to state but with all the issues resolved you can get on with your lives.