Quick Q&A: Divorce Mediation
We know the decision to divorce is often overwhelming. Once the decision to divorce is made, the next most important decision is determining the appropriate process for you. One option is divorce mediation. All of our attorneys are trained divorce mediators, meaning we've gone through at least forty hours of divorce mediation training, which we've supplemented with additional education and training in divorce mediation.
To follow are the most common questions we're asked regarding divorce mediation and some short answers to those questions:
Question: "What is divorce mediation?"
Answer: Divorce mediation is negotiation between divorcing spouses with the assistance of a neutral third party who facilitates/assists the negotiation. It's a voluntary commitment to work with your spouse to reach a fair agreement to resolve the issues related to your divorce. Some of these issues include how you share custody and parenting access, how child support will be handled, how parents are going to pay for college, determining whether someone will pay alimony/spousal support to the other - and if so - how much and for how long, and how will assets and debts be divided between divorcing parties.
Question: "What does divorce mediation cost?"
Answer: It really depends (I know - what a typical lawyer answer). We bill on based on our respective hourly rates when mediating a divorce. A number of factors contribute to how fast or slow a divorce mediation may take, including the level of complication of the issues present, how fast or slow the respective parties provide information to the mediator and the other party, and the readiness of the parties to divorce. Time spent by the mediator on a given matter includes facilitating the mediation sessions along with work done outside of the mediation sessions: the preparation of financial worksheets (financial affidavits, child support guidelines worksheets, e.g.), preparing summary letters recapping each mediation session, and the preparation and revision of a formal separation agreement, to name a few.
Question: "What is the difference between a divorce mediator and a divorce attorney?"
Answer: A divorce mediator is someone trained in the divorce mediation process who facilitates the negotiations of divorcing spouses as they relate to their divorce. Divorce mediators can be (and often are) attorneys, but that is not a requirement. Here at Berman Mickelson Dembo & Jacobs, LLC., we are all attorneys and use our knowledge of the legal system to assist parties in their mediation and negotiations. Importantly, the divorce mediator does not represent one or both of the parties. A divorce attorney, however, is the legal representative and advocate for one of the parties in a divorce. An attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce.
Question: "Does divorce mediation work?"
Answer: It really depends (I know, I know, there's that dreaded attorney answer again). In our experience, divorce mediation is a very effective and satisfying way for most parties to resolve the issues related to their divorce. The underlying issues which led to the divorce and personalities of the parties are two of many determining factors in whether a divorce mediation, or other family-law related mediation, will be successful. Divorcing spouses who mediate are typically able to focus on his or her needs and interests without getting sidetracked by positions, which happens more often in a traditional or litigated divorce. This is one of the main reasons we've found that most participants are very happy they chose to mediate their divorce rather than litigate.
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