Mediation is a process for assisted negotiation, problem solving and negotiation. Mediation is an informal process in which the parties resolve their own disputes without a judge imposing a solution upon them. Unlike a trial or arbitration, mediation gives the parties the opportunity to speak to each other in an informal setting that is guided by a neutral and impartial third person called a mediator. The mediator’s role is to help the parties communicate their positions to each other in a constructive manner so they can craft their own solutions.
The issues in divorce mediation can be resolved in a several hours, depending on the issues and the personalities involved. Some divorces are mediated in a single session. And, sometimes the process occurs over time, with a series of face-to-face and telephone sessions.
The desired outcome of the mediation process is a complete Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which reflects a couple’s future plans for their children and their finances. Following each mediation session our clients receive a draft of their customized agreement. Ultimately, when the Marital Settlement Agreement is complete the mediator reads it with the clients, it is signed and notarized.
In general, mediation is often faster, cheaper, simpler, and more private then ongoing litigation. Mediation offers participants an opportunity to process their anger, address future events, and create customized resolutions that meets their individual needs.
A mediator is a neutral and impartial facilitator. A mediator is a neutral as to the participants and impartial as to the outcome.
Mediators have no decision-making authority. The mediator creates an environment for collaboration, communication, and problem solving; provides analysis, information, and options; and facilitates discussions between the parties in order to help them identify, define, and re-frame their needs and issues. The mediator may use a combination of joint and individual conferences. Occasionally the mediator may make suggestions, ultimately however the parties make the final decisions. Once a resolution is reached the mediator puts the parties’ agreement into writing.
Anything you both agree needs to be discussed can be discussed in mediation. The mediator will help you create the agenda for your dialogue. In the case of divorce this agenda should include how you will divide your debts and your financial resources. If there are children involved a time sharing and decision-making plan, as well as the details regarding child support, must be included.
When we think about divorce and other family issues, we focus on the classic issues of marital property, support, and parenting. In mediation, we focus on empowering the couple to address and resolve the issues that are before the court. If the couple agrees with such resolution, the mediator drafts the Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement that addresses the Parenting Plan if there are children, the distribution of property, alimony, and child support (if applicable). These agreements become the blueprints for the future.
Mediation sessions are informal, relaxed, safe, and confidential. Most importantly, mediation is a faster process than ongoing litigation, saving time and money so household resources can remain with the families, as well as being less stressful on the parties and their children.
When unmarried parents find their relationship is at an end they often need to find parenting solutions for the children that they share. The issues involved can include legally establishing who is their child’s father, creating a time-sharing schedule, and/or calculating child support payments. Your mediator can help you and your co-parent reach agreement regarding time sharing with your children, child support, and other expenses.