Divorce Mediation FAQs

Why Should I Consider Mediation For My Divorce?
What Does The Mediator Do?
How Does the Process Work?
How Long Does Mediation Take?
Is Mediation Cheaper Than Using Lawyers to Handle a Divorce?
What if My Case is Too Complicated for Mediation?
Is Mediation confidential?
What if our divorce is extremely adversarial?

WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER MEDIATION FOR MY DIVORCE?
Mediation allows separating and divorcing couples to take control of planning their own lives and provides them an environment which is conducive to make good decisions about their future. It is especially beneficial for parents, who though separating, will need to continue making joint decisions about their children well into the future. The decision-making process learned in mediation can serve as a model for future communications. Also, mediated settlements have a consistently higher compliance rate because the participants have created their own agreements.

WHAT DOES THE MEDIATOR DO?
A mediator is a neutral party specially trained to help couples resolve the issues in their divorce. The mediator facilitates the communication between the parties by making sure each party is given an uninterrupted time to speak, asking a party to restate or explain a point when necessary, and asking questions to make communication clear. The mediator is not a decision maker. Decisions are made by the participants.

HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
The participants and the mediator meet in a series of mediation sessions, usually 2 hours long. The entire process can usually be completed in 3or 4 sessions.

The participants and the mediator identify the issues that need resolution and the order in which they will be discussed and then determine what information needs to be gathered and shared. Throughout the process the participants gather all relevant financial data, and if necessary, the opinions of experts such as appraisers or accountants. All financial material and information is treated with the same care and concern as would be the case in the adversarial process.

Further discussions revolve around how to resolve the various issues in order to meet the needs of both parties. The mediator assists by providing information about the court system and common ways that divorce issues are resolved.

At the conclusion of mediation, the mediator documents the agreements for review by each of the participants and their attorneys, if any.

HOW LONG DOES MEDIATION TAKE?
The complexity of the issues, the emotional readiness, and the ability of the participants to be flexible as they negotiate a fair agreement determine the length of the mediation. Every case is different, but the average case usually takes between three to four two-hour mediation sessions. More complex cases can take longer to complete.

IS MEDIATION CHEAPER THAN USING LAWYERS TO HANDLE A DIVORCE?
Typical divorce costs can run between two to ten times higher than the mediation cost. Also, keep in mind that “cost” also includes emotional cost to the participants and their children who go through a litigated divorce. This emotional cost is greatly reduced by the mediation process.

WHAT IF MY CASE IS TOO COMPLICATED FOR MEDIATION?
No case is too complicated to be settled using mediation. As needed, mediation participants may consult with outside experts such as accountants, appraisers, financial planners and attorneys. These experts may also participate in mediation sessions.

IS MEDIATION CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes. State law says that no one, not even the two parties, can use what is said in mediation as evidence in court. What happens in mediation is as confidential as settlement negotiations between parties and their lawyers. At the beginning of the mediation sessions each participant signs an agreement to mediate that creates an environment of confidentiality conducive to open an honest dialogue that is necessary to build lasting agreements.

WHAT IF OUR DIVORCE IS EXTREMELY ADVERSARIAL?
Although many mediating couples are amicable and work well in mediation, there are also many couples who are very emotional about the divorce and don’t think they can negotiate face to face. Part of every qualified mediator’s training is in assisting couples who may struggle in dealing with their emotions but who still would like to work things out peacefully and keep them out of the court system. Individuals become effective mediation participants when they see that the process can work without adding to the high emotional and financial cost of divorce.