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The separation of a family can lead to hard feelings for both parties. The courts can certainly tell the parties how they are going to divide their financial assets or what their custodial time will be, however, the process is adversarial in nature. It is not designed to help families remain cordial. When children are involved, if the parties can remain cordial, their paths, and that of their children, will be a much smoother road to travel.
Mediation is non-adversarial and voluntary. It is a tool to help parties come together and make their own informed decisions. Unlike the court, mediators do not tell you what you will do. The mediator facilitates a process that helps the parties reach an agreement that the parties themselves believe is fair and reasonable. The parties are encouraged to voice their needs and concerns and to make informed decisions about their future and that of their children.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process where both parties are brought together, on an even playing field, so they can each bring their own ideas to the table. The goal is for the parties to come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both. The mediator offers recommendations and observations that may help you and your spouse reach an agreement. For as much as they offer, they leave it up to you to create and agree to the terms of the agreement.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Both you and your spouse will meet with the mediator in a neutral environment. With the help of the mediator, you will be able to work through any issues that may be present including spousal and child support, custody, equitable distribution of property, and even division of personal property. Agreements, like the Property Settlement Agreement, will be included within the divorce decree when both of you agree on the conditions.
How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation?
If you and your spouse decide that divorce mediation is a good fit, it is important to be properly prepared. Mediation requires full disclosure of your various assets and liabilities. Therefore, as part of the process, you will be asked to prepare a list of your various assets and liabilities and to provide supporting documentation. You will want to be prepared with your thoughts on what is most important to you in the divorce process. You will be encouraged to retain an attorney who can provide you with advice regarding your legal rights and obligations. In general, mediation is about making informed compromises.
When you are preparing for mediation, take a careful look at what you are, or what you may, be willing to give up to reach an amicable solution. This solution should be what that you believe is fair. To get the most important things, you may have to be willing to give up a few of the smaller things. It is important to remember that this process allows the parties to make decisions for themselves, while considering the children if there are any. This process will avoid having a court dictate what it thinks asset distribution or custody will be.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
There is no “one-size fits all” mediation. The length of the mediation will be determined by how motivated the parties are to reaching an agreement. Each situation is different, and the process is tailored to each situation. If you work together and can agree on each issue, the mediation can go smoothly and move along very rapidly. Obviously, some topics are easier to resolve than others. On average, most couples will have 4 to 7 sessions which are usually 1.5 hours to two hours in length.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?
Divorce mediation is designed to save you money; however, there is an investment. With mediation, we charge a minimum of two hours payable at the beginning of each session. Your first session will be utilized as an intake session. It will be scheduled for two hours and payment will be required at the beginning of the session. If the parties decide to proceed further, each session thereafter will be scheduled for approximately two hours. Payment will be made at the conclusion of each session. The number of sessions needed for the parties to reach an agreement varies. If an agreement is reached, you will be required to post a retainer, or deposit, for the anticipated time needed to draft the Property Settlement Agreement. If you deposit more than what is actually used, the unused portion will be refunded to you.
Divorce mediation is a valuable tool to help former couples come to a mutually beneficial agreement that will help eliminate the inherently adversarial nature of the divorce process. Choosing to engage in mediation will allow you to negotiate issues that are important to you and help you reach an agreement that you both find reasonable under the circumstances. The goal is to make the divorce process proceed more quickly and to allow the parties to make informed choices without the added costs associated with litigation and the uncertainty of the court deciding your future.
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