FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is an informal settlement conference with a neutral third party who is trained in assisting individuals in settling their disputes. The goal of mediation is to help individuals find a “win-win” solution to their problems without undergoing a costly courtroom battle.
WHY SHOULD I MEDIATE INSTEAD OF LITIGATE?
- Mediation is a more efficient and more cost-effective approach to resolving disputes than traditional forms of civil litigation.
- Mediation encourages the parties to cooperate, reducing hostilities, animosities and general stress customarily associated with family law matters.
- Resolution is often achieved in one day (whereas litigation often takes years).
- Mediation allows you to control your destiny, without being forced by a court to do something.
- Mediation is creative … it allows you and your former spouse to “think outside of the box” and design a settlement that meets your unique needs.
- Mediation is completely confidential.
WHAT IS EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION?
WHAT IS ALIMONY AND WHEN IS IT APPROPRIATE?
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED?
HOW DOES MEDIATION WORK?
The mediator holds joints meetings with all parties, as well as private meetings (a.k.a. “caucuses”) with each party. These meetings address important information concerning the facts and issues concerning the parties. Settlement options are discussed and negotiated. Discussions held are confidential and cannot be disclosed in any future legal proceedings. Mediation is concluded only when all parties have reached an agreement or it appears that none of the settlement options are acceptable to both parties. However, in most cases a settlement is reached. A mediated settlement agreement is binding in court.
DO I NEED A LAWYER FOR MEDIATION?
No. A certified family law mediator is trained, experienced, and can help each party work through settlement options. A mediator does not give legal advice, so if you have any questions concerning legal rights and responsibilities, it is best to consult an attorney. Often, mediators will suggest that each party seek the advice of an attorney or accountant to review all or part of the final agreement before it is executed.
WHAT TYPES OF DISPUTES ARE HANDLES BY A MEDIATOR?
Any dispute at any stage can be successfully mediated, including but not limited to:
- Time-Sharing/Custody Matters
- Child Support
- Equitable Distribution/Property Division
HOW DO I OBTAIN MY FINAL JUDGEMENT OR DIVORCE FROM THE COURT?
After obtaining a settlement agreement at mediation, the parties may hire an attorney to file the formal paperwork to obtain the final judgement of divorce and the court’s approval of the settlement agreement, which was reached in mediation. However, the parties may also complete these forms, which are often available at the Office of the Clerk of Court, Family Division (each state will have a different set of forms) or online (search for “Do It Yourself” divorce packet.) For a modest fee, some mediators will also provide assistance to parties, who wish to complete the forms themselves. A final hearing can normally be scheduled within 30 days.
BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
- MONEY – Mediation is generally less expensive when contrasted to the expense of litigation.
- TIME – As a result of significant court back-log, it may take up to a year before your case even sees the inside of a courtroom. If your case is appealed, many more years and expense will increase before you see resolution of your dispute. Using mediation allows the parties to move at their own pace, and often yields rapid results.
- MUTUAL SATISFACTION – Parties are generally more satisfied with solutions that have been mutually agreed-upon, rather than imposed upon them by a third-party decision maker.
- COMPLIANCE – Because you’ve designed your own settlement agreement, most mediated settlement agreements enjoy a high compliance rate.
- CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – Mediated Settlement Agreements are able to address both legal and non-legal family issues, and are therefore more comprehensive and customizable. Mediation allows the parties to tailor an agreement that best suits their family’s needs.
- SELF-DETERMINATION – When you negotiate your own settlement agreement, you exercise self-determination, meaning that you maintain complete personal power/control over your destiny.
- CIVILITY – Mediation can often serve to resolve disputes between hostile parties in an amicable way, which operates to preserve a civil relationship for future encounters, or, terminate a relationship in a more amicable fashion. When the parties come together in a win/win mutually agreed-upon settlement, hostilities are often tempered.
- TIME-TESTED – Mediated settlement agreements tend to hold up over time, and if a later dispute arises, the parties are more likely to utilize a cooperative forum of problem-solving (mediation) to resolve their differences rather than pursuing an adversarial approach (litigation.)