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Why Choose Mediation

Mediation brings the divorcing couple together with an experienced facilitator to negotiate an acceptable settlement while avoiding the emotional traps of lawyer legal litigation.

Can we use mediation if we are angry?
Good mediators know how to help divorcing couples manage the strong feelings that accompany divorce.  Mediation is not just for couples who have an amicable divorce.  In fact, angry couples are in greater danger of seeing their litigated divorces spin out of control and need the calming influence of mediation even more.
Do we need lawyers for a mediated divorce?

Although the mediator may be a lawyer, he/she will generally not take you to court to get the divorce.  In most cases, the partners each use a separate lawyer to consult with as the mediation develops, but the lawyers usually do not attend the mediation sessions.  In mediation you use lawyers as consultants or advisors rather than as surrogates.  The lawyers do not take control of the process but support you as you need advice.  You stay in control and dramatically reduce the amount of time your lawyer bills for service.

How do we choose a mediator?

Choose a mediator as you would choose a cardiac surgeon.  Get references from reliable professionals.  Carefully check out the mediator’s background and experience.  Look for a mediator that has a focused practice in mediation rather than offers it as a sideline.  Once you have narrowed down your choices, talk to the mediator to see if you feel comfortable working with her or him.  You should be able to have a 15-20 minute conversation without charge so that you can determine if it is a good fit and your next steps.

How much does mediation cost?
The average couple can complete a mediated agreement in four to eight hours of work with a competent mediator.  Generally the cost of the mediator is from $1,000 to $2,000.
Is mediation for everyone?

Mediation is divorce for grown-ups.  Most couples can benefit from mediation.  About 85% of couples who try it succeed in negotiating their agreement in mediation.  Mediation is less likely to succeed if one of the partners has severe emotional or cognitive deficits.  It is difficult to mediate when one of the partners is an active alcoholic or addicted to drugs.  Mediation is for responsible people able to negotiate in good faith.

What are the advantages of a mediated divorce?

Cost:  Mediated divorces cost less.  The average mediated divorce should cost less than $3,500 including the fees for separate lawyers.  The average conventional divorce can easily cost about $20,000.  Mediation almost always represents a significant economic saving.

Time:  Mediated divorces are resolved faster.  The average mediated divorce can be settled in two or three months.  The average conventional divorce can take one to five years to resolve.  Faster resolution means that the family can begin to heal that much sooner rather than stewing in limbo and unable to move on.

Quality of agreement:  Mediation results in better agreements.  One of the worst features of conventionally resolved divorce is the high rate of failure of settlements.  It is estimated that half of all conventional settlements are the subject of litigation within two years of the divorce.  This suggests that many people do not feel committed to the contracts they negotiate under the duress of litigation.  Because couples who mediate reach real agreement rather than just grudging trade-offs, mediated divorces have a much higher rate of compliance and a much lower rate of “post-judgment” litigation – usually less than 5%.

Quality of communication:  Mediated divorce improves the chances that the couple will be able to cooperate around the children after the divorce is over.  Mediation, unlike conventional divorce, not only encourages but requires the couple to learn new ways to communicate about child related issues.  In mediation the couple learns to manage such issues with respectful and cordial behavior.  It creates a business-like partnership to solve problems and help the children adapt to divorce.  In conventional divorce, the lawyers do the talking and the partners do not communicate directly.  So, when the divorce is over and the lawyers disappear, the couple is left with a vacuum of communication.  It is no surprise that so many couples end up back in court.

What if I think he/she is hiding assets?

Mediators often recruit the services of expert accountants, appraisers and actuaries to help establish what the assets are and what they are worth.  Many mediators are themselves experienced divorce lawyers and have extensive experience in evaluating complex economic issues.  Mediation, if done well, can provide the same level of security that the truth has been revealed as conventional adversary divorce.

Mediation vs. Conventional Divorce?

In a conventional divorce, spouses hire adversarial lawyers to represent them.  Each attorney works doggedly to promote the interests of their client without regard for emotional or financial cost.  They spend between one and five years preparing for a public battle in the courtroom over the children, finances, and property which will be heard and decided by a judge.  That is an illusion. Just before the trial date, almost all divorces are settled but at great expense to the couple, both financially and emotionally.

In mediation, the spouses work together with the mediator to negotiate their settlement.  The mediator provides a safe atmosphere and the leadership to facilitate calm discussions between the couple as they negotiate the issues of parenting, child support, alimony, and the distribution of property.  Typically, in four to twelve sessions, the mediator has guided the pair to a balanced agreement so that they can obtain a simple uncontested divorce.  By choosing mediation, the couple has reduced the financial cost of their divorce, they have a resolution that comes in a matter of months instead of years, and they and their children can move forward.