What is mediation?

Mediation is a process that is designed to help people reach the best agreements possible for themselves when they are separating or divorcing.  A trained, professional mediator assists you in obtaining the information you need to focus on the issues that must be resolved in order to separate or divorce as amicably as possible.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation is generally much less expensive than litigation.  You schedule session with the mediator by mutual agreement. Mediation generally takes less time than other processes.  And, most importantly, you make the best decisions possible for you and your family, rather than having someone else decide for you.

If I use a mediator, will I need to go to court to get divorced?

If you are divorcing, you will have to file for divorce in court whether or not you use mediation.  However, if you are able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to all of the property, financial, custody, parenting and other issues, and the court accepts your settlement, it is likely that your court experience will be quite limited.

Will I need a lawyer in order to use mediation?

Consulting with an attorney at some point during the mediation process is highly recommended.  However, by using mediation, it is likely that you will use fewer legal services.  Unlike a mediator, a lawyer can answer legal questions about how the law applies to your specific situation, what the likely outcome in court would be, and is able to draft the documents for filing with the court from the mediation "Memorandum of Understanding." 

What should I know about a mediator before choosing one?

You should approach hiring a mediator like you would any other professional, such as an attorney, accountant or financial planner.  You should obtain information on their background and training as a mediator, experience or knowledge in mediating the types of issues you have, how fees are charged and how fees are divided among the parties.

How long will mediation take for a divorce?

Because each separation and divorce is different, it is hard to predict exactly how long your mediation will last.  In general, a couple who must make decisions about both parenting and financial issues may meet with a mediator for four to eight sessions.

How long is each mediation session?

Generally, mediation sessions are scheduled to last from one and a half to two hours depending on the couple's needs and available time.  Some couples prefer longer sessions while others find that shorter sessions are more productive.  In certain circumstances or locations, half or full day sessions may occur.

How often will we meet with the mediator?

At the initial mediation session, you will begin to identify the issues that need to be decided in your particular situation.  What these issues are, how urgent the decision are, how quickly you are able to gather the required information, and how fast you wish to proceed will determine the schedule you set to meet with the mediator.  One, to, or even more weeks may elapse between sessions.  You may meet with the mediator over the course of a month or several months.  In situations where couples have no children and no property, a shorter time frame and fewer sessions may be sufficient.

Will our children be involved in the mediation process?

Depending on your mediator's training and background, the mediator may wish to meet with your children at some point during the mediation.  When mediators meet with children, or with both the children and the parents, it is important to understand that mediators are not asking the children to weigh in on decisions such as where the children will live or what the parenting schedule will be.  Children do not have decision making power, however they do have a voice about what is occurring.

How much does mediation cost?

Your mediation costs will be based on an hourly fee.  This fee will be charged for all mediation sessions and services, including time spent by the mediator in reviewing and drafting documents, telephone consultations, and consultations by the mediator with your attorneys or other advisors in the process.  The cost of mediation is generally quite a bit less than if you each hired lawyers to represent you in your divorce without using mediation.  The cost and how you wish to share the cost can be discussed a part of the first mediation session or before you meet with the mediator.