Divorce Mediation – How Does it Work?
By: Megan Mason
Divorce Mediation is when an attorney or licensed mediator meets with a client or spouse in the hopes of coming together on the issues in their divorce proceedings without having to come to Court. Divorce Mediation can save the time and money associated with going to trial. The key thing to understand in mediation is the mediator does not represent either side. This is important to understand because often, when people get angry at the mediator they think the lawyer or mediator are trying to get them to do what is best for them.
Divorce Mediation on Long Island starts with a brief background information about the parties involved. This can include the names of each party, any children (if applicable), the ages of the parties, address(s), phone numbers and email addresses. The purpose of the background information is to determine if everyone involved is a good fit for the job. The next step is to identify potential complications, past situations, and what makes each person different from others. Based on the information from the background investigation and from the individual clients, a recommendation is made. The recommendation is then shared with the parties and their attorneys, who will review it and make a decision about the next steps.
Divorce Mediation on Long Island is quick and easy. Because the process is set up between the divorcing parties, it is free for both clients and the law firms involved to participate. Both parties are aware that their conversations will be recorded and may be later used in court if there is a dispute over some issues or a need to have the parties present at a trial.
The length of the Divorce Mediation varies from case to case. For couples that are close and have already formed an emotional connection with their attorney, the Divorce Mediation could be completed within a short amount of time and may conclude within a few months. Conversely, for individuals or couples who are still in the discovery phase and have not yet developed an emotional relationship with their divorce litigation attorney, the Divorce Mediation could take longer. Sometimes, the Divorce Mediation can take several weeks.
Divorce Mediation requires the complete participation and effort of both spouses. In addition to being aware of legal rights and where the parties stand, the divorcing spouses must also come to an agreement regarding child custody, the division of assets, visitation and other issues. For example, if children will be raised in the mother’s presence, the divorcing spouse must agree to the visitation schedule. If one spouse wants sole physical custody of the children, then the other spouse must consent.
At the Divorce Mediation, both parties are usually well represented by their respective divorce attorneys. However, because each spouse may not have legal experience in negotiations, the divorcing spouses may seek representation from a family law pro with experience in such negotiations. Typically, when you join a Divorce Mediation you will be invited to attend two free consultations, one at your local Divorce Mediation office and one at a reputable free consultation service where you can meet the Divorce Mediator and the attorneys. Once you have attended a free consultation, you can expect to be given the option to sign a contract or a consent form. The fee for the Divorce Mediation does not include any court costs unless the mediator issues you a certificate of completion.
It is up to each party whether they wish to continue the Divorce Mediation after signing the contract or opt for full divorce mediation. If one or both of you decide to discontinue the Divorce Mediation you should inform your attorney. Divorce Mediation can be an extremely helpful tool if you’re trying to finalize a fair settlement. But you must remember that although it is a helpful tool in resolving your issues without the cost of going to court, you should still hire a qualified divorce lawyer to ensure you receive the fairest resolution in your divorce case.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on parenting arrangements, you and your spouse may work together to create a Parenting Plan. In most cases the Divorce Mediation will be the first meeting between the divorcing parties and their attorneys. You should plan to discuss your parenting plan with your spouse prior to meeting with your Divorce Mediation Judge. In some cases the Divorce Mediation may work closely with the Divorce Attorney while in others it may be separate meetings with your Divorce Attorney and your Divorce Mediation Partner.