What is Divorce Mediation?
Some people confuse divorce mediation with marriage therapy. Perhaps that is because many therapists can also serve as divorce mediators. Whatever the reason, it is incorrect. Divorce mediation is one of the processes that is available to parties seeking a divorce. John M. Haynes, considered to be an authority on divorce mediation, describes it "as a process in which a third person helps participants in a dispute to resolve it. To resolve the dispute, the participants must negotiate a solution. Problem solving is part of the negotiations. Because problem solving involves more than one person, the chosen solution must satisfy all the participants in the dispute.” Thus, when you mediate your divorce or other family law matter, you involve a third-party neutral (the Mediator) who initiates the negotiations and problem solving. Both parties are equally involved in the negotiations and problem solving and both parties must be satisfied with the chosen solution.
Divorce Mediation Decreases Misunderstandings:
Remember playing "telephone" as a child where each person conveys a message to the next until the last person shares what was originally said? Was the message ever conveyed correctly? The same holds true when you bring in others to convey your message to your spouse. A lot gets lost in translation and often results in misunderstandings and hard feelings. Although speaking directly to each other may be challenging, with the assistance of a trained professional, in mediation, you can convey your message directly to your spouse. You can explain your position so that you are sure that your spouse fully understands the rationale behind it. From there, you can work through disagreements and continue to move forward to reach a peaceful agreement.
Divorce Mediation is More Efficient and Affordable:
With the traditional route of litigation, each party retains his or her own attorney. Each attorney must become fully knowledgeable about your marriage, your children, your finances, your employment, etc., and then share this information with the other attorney. Every conversation, meeting, and phone call depletes the family’s assets and leaves less to divide in the end. Mediation provides a venue for parties to work out solutions directly with one another, saving time and money. It is the most cost effective way to dissolve a marriage without sacrificing the assistance of a professional who has knowledge of family law. Mediation averages from 3 to 6 sessions, depending upon the pace you set and the complexity of your issues. The cost of mediation is a fraction of what it will cost versus the traditional litigation route.
Divorce Mediation Allows You to Control Your Future:
Does your child have Celiac Disease that require special consideration when calculating child support? Do your children belong to travel teams that dominate your weekends? Does your childcare provider need off every other Thursday requiring you to make special accommodation of your work schedule? Every family has its own unique combination of obligations and challenges. When you litigate, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a judge to take into consideration the level of detail required to meet the needs of your family. In mediation, you can. You have the benefit of a neutral professional who can help you arrive at creative and workable solutions to your unique issues. You do not delegate decision making to a judge who does not know you.
Divorce Mediation is More Peaceful:
When parties decide to mediate, they've made a choice to work toward an amicable solution to their problem. It does not mean divorce mediation will be easy. There will be tension at times and difficult decisions will need to be made, but a divorce settlement can be achieved. By providing a forum for direct communication between you and your spouse, and facilitating creative solutions that work for your family, divorce mediation encourages a peaceful resolution.
Divorce Mediation Reduces Future Disputes:
When a judge decides a case, people are resentful at being 'ordered' to structure their lives in accordance with a judge's decision. They are more likely to hold the other party responsible for their discontentment and will challenge the decision at every opportunity. Studies have shown that when parties take the time to explore the available options and develop their own agreement, they are far more likely to live by and understand the agreement they created. This results in less post-divorce conflicts.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
The first step to determining whether mediation is for you is to have a consultation together with a trained and experienced mediator. Both you and your spouse should be involved in the consultation to preserve the neutrality and objectivity of the mediator. During the consultation, you would provide a summary of your situation – how long you were married, how many children you have, both parties’ employment statuses, the scope of your assets and liabilities, and other basic matters – which will give the mediator a sense of the issues that need to be negotiated in your case. Using that information, the mediator should provide a framework for how he or she will conduct the mediation sessions that will facilitate the problem solving needed for you and your spouse to reach an agreement. If you proceed with mediation, you will use the first mediation session to familiarize the mediator with the complexities of your particular situation. Data collection will be organized. You will raise any emergent issues, such as parenting time schedules or payment of monthly expenses, and put in place temporary solutions pending the final outcome. At Wilson Family Law, we focus first on the children to ensure that their needs are being met while we work toward a permanent plan to resolve all of the issues. The goal of mediation is to arrive at a settlement agreement that addresses all of the issues that the Court would have otherwise had to address. These issues include spousal support or maintenance and alimony, life insurance, child support, payment of children’s extracurricular expenses and medical expenses, each parties’ contribution towards college expenses, division of assets such as investment and retirement accounts, disposition of real property and the marital residence, allocation of debt and liabilities, and the division of personal property. The beauty of mediation is that your settlement may also include issues that are unique to your situation that a court might not ordinarily get involved in. Once you have resolved all of the aspects of your divorce, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (commonly referred to as an “MOU”). The MOU memorializes your entire settlement and outlines in detail what you and your spouse agreed to. The MOU will also contain information about how certain issues were resolved, or the underlying principles that governed certain decisions. Once the MOU is prepared, you and your spouse should have the settlement reviewed by a review attorney who will ensure that you have analyzed and assessed all of your legal rights and obligations before signing a formal Marital Settlement Agreement—also known as a Property Settlement Agreement. If you utilize a trained and experienced mediator, you will be educated about the legal issues that must be considered during the negotiations, but the mediator cannot give you or your spouse legal advice. Remember, the mediator is a neutral, third party who does not represent you or your spouse in any way. Once you have a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or a Property Settlement Agreement, you can proceed with an Uncontested Divorce Hearing.
Divorce Mediation is Private and Confidential:
Our offices are private. The setting is comfortable and the atmosphere is calm to encourage peaceful, productive conversations. All discussions, including the initial consultation, are completely confidential.
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Wilson Family Law LLC
667 Shunpike Road, Suite 5
Chatham, NJ 07928
Office: 973-520-4275 Fax: 973-378-0603