FAQ

Why is mediation better than litigation?
Mediation is arguably the best tool to help families transition from divorce to marriage.  It provides a number of benefits, many of which have long-term consequences.  Mediation is less expensive than litigation.  It takes less time, so couples are able to divorce within their own time frame instead of being at the mercy of the court system.  Mediation puts control of the situation into the hands of those most affected.  Not only are they able to create their divorce settlement, they are also left in charge of important decisions about child custody and visitation.  Mediation is private, so discussions involving sensitive family information remain confidential instead of becoming a matter of court record.  Skilled mediators are able to bring couples together to discuss the most important issues affecting their lives and assist them in making decisions about those issues with fairness and civility.  Mediation offers a way by which couples are able to divorce with dignity and respect.
How does mediation work?
Usually everyone meets together in a private room.  Each party gets to speak about what is important to that party, and to hear what is important to the other side.  The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong.  The parties decide the outcome.  The mediator facilitates the discussion which is considered confidential.  Occasionally caucusing may be used in order settle a dispute with less tension.  A “caucus” is a private meeting, that can be called by the mediator or by one of the parties, between the mediator and just one of the participants that’s held out of earshot of the other party.
What do I need to bring with me to the mediation?
You should be prepared to bring and show any documents that will help the other side to understand your point of view in the matter.  You should also come prepared to explain your perspective fully and to listen to the other parties.
What is the role of a mediator?
A mediator’s role is to act as a neutral party.  The mediator is trained to help the parties discuss and resolve their differences and reach an acceptable agreement.  The mediator does not make decisions or give legal advice, but helps the parties work out their own solutions and make their own decisions, by peacefully navigating individuals and families through difficult transitions.
Is mediation expensive? Who pays for mediation?
One of the most appealing benefits of mediation is the financial component.  Not only does mediation usually cost a great deal less than litigation and other methods of dispute resolution, it also puts the disputing parties in complete control of the cost.  If their desire is to settle a problem quickly and inexpensively, it is up to them to do so.  They are responsible for preparing for the mediation and ensuring that the discussion stay on track.  They are guided by a skilled mediator, but ultimately, it is within their power to keep the cost of mediation low.In some cases, the only cost associated with mediation is that of the mediator’s fee.  It is possible to have individual legal representation during mediation, but some people do not find it necessary.  Even if you do choose to hire an attorney, his or her fees will be lower than in litigation, because less time is devoted to building a case.  Ultimately, mediation is one of the least expensive methods for settling a legal dispute.Generally mediation fees are generally paid for by both or all parties (in family groups).  Participants are encouraged to consider sharing fees so that everyone benefits from expeditious and economic resolution.  Responsibility for mediation fees is an issue that can be decided by mediation participants.

How can child custody issues be settled without going to court?
Most people assume that when child custody issues arise the only solution is to settle them in court.  The good news is court is often not necessary for settling disputes within families.  When both parents are willing to work with one another and both want what is best for their children, settling issues related to custody is much easier.  Mediation is often the best tool for determining how custody should be handled.Working with a neutral mediator allows parents to put aside their differences and focus on the wellbeing of their children.  They are able to have civil conversations concerning their children without being distracted by the complicated feelings they have for one another.  A mediator facilitates focused and productive conversation that leads to an effective resolution.  Best of all, the parents are in charge of the outcome, so those who know the children best are the ones making the important decisions.
Do children and elder loved ones have a say in their care?
Many child custody and elder care issues are resolved in mediation.  Often, children are too young and elder family members too ill to play a role in the decision making process.  However, this is not always the case and whenever possible, mediators do allow children and elder relatives a say in the final outcome of mediation.  As a matter of fact, when children and adults are of sound mind and able to communicate their feelings and desires, mediators may place special emphasis on these consultations.This is especially valuable when it comes to determining where a child or adult will live.  Mediators are able to take the information they learn from the person around whom a dispute centers, and communicate his or her desires to all parties involved.  When a neutral mediator, skilled at communicating and dealing with complicated emotions, explains the feelings of a child or adult relative, it can be much easier for the other members of the family to accept.  Most mediators place a special emphasis on their discussions with children and adult loved ones when helping families resolve various issues.
How is collaborative divorce better than litigation?
Collaborative divorce provides a variety of benefits that make divorcing with dignity and respect possible.  Though there are couples for which nothing but litigation will work, if a couple is willing to communicate and compromise just a bit, a collaborative divorce team can guide them toward a peaceful solution that is ideal for every member of the family.Collaborative divorce puts divorcing couples in charge of the outcome of their circumstances.  They are the ones making the decisions for important matters regarding finances, real estate, and the wellbeing of their children.  Many dispute resolution alternatives offer this control, but collaborative divorce takes things a step further.  The process allows couples to work with a team of experts that provide advice and guidance about the most important topics in divorce.  This means divorcing couples have the knowledge and information they need to make informed decisions that instill confidence and put them on a path to a happy life following their divorce.
Do my family members and/or spouse and I have to be in agreement to come to mediation?
No, you just have to agree to try it.  Mediation works in most cases.
While it is not possible to force someone to mediate, you can point out the benefits of mediation.  Friends and family (not your children) can relay the advantages of resolving conflict and maintaining control of the outcome; rather than having the courts decide.Mediation allows all parties to voice their concerns and desires in a calm environment.  It is a process that keeps the parties in control and allows them to get what is important to them.  This time proven process can result in more amicable relationships amongst family members, especially when children are involved.  Remind the resistant party that mediation is far less expensive than litigation and less time consuming.
What are our chances for success?
The success rate for mediation is high, since it is a voluntary process and most participants are highly motivated to reach agreement.  It is estimated that between 80% and 85% of mediating parties reach comprehensive resolution.
If a lawsuit has been filed, can we still participate in mediation?
Absolutely.  Mediation is a voluntary process which can be initiated at any time, as long as the parties agree.  Due to the high probability of resolution through mediation, most judges will encourage use of mediation if asked.