For couples that can agree on the major issues in a divorce, such as distribution of property and child custody, mediation is a cost-effective alternative to traditional divorce.
Mediation is a process whereby you, your attorney, your soon-to-be-ex spouse, his or her attorney, and a mediator meet up in a neutral territory – not the courtroom – and draft a contract listing the terms of the divorce.
The Role of the Mediator
The mediator doesn’t work for either of you, but remains neutral. He helps you come up with solutions to your disagreements. He will also keep the tension in the room to a minimum, and help you and your spouse focus on the issues at hand. You and your spouse will sit in separate rooms. The mediator will go back and forth between you, delivering messages and recording what you’ve already agreed upon. The mediator cannot, however, give advice to either of you. Because of this, it is recommended that you hire a lawyer to consult with if you’re not sure of your goals.
Benefits of Mediation
The main advantage of mediation is the time it takes. The average litigated divorce case takes eighteen months, costing thousands of dollars. Mediated cases, on the other hand, usually take significantly less time, and cost much less. This is largely because mediated cases involve more direct communication between the couple, a lack of which tends to spark unnecessary battles.
Setting Up Mediation
The mediation process is more flexible than a trial’s. Mediation schedules can be set on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. It can take as long as the couple needs to work out their issues. The process will go quicker if you and your spouse can meet between mediation sessions. You can come up with a list of settled issues, issues you two can decide on, and issues which need the mediator’s help. If, however, you don’t think you can work with your spouse without the mediator present, do NOT try to do so. This might lead to more arguments than necessary, and to you and your spouse closing yourselves off from concessions or solutions.
To help with the legal aspects of the process, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Pines only mediate couples when at least one party has a lawyer. (This lawyer cannot be Seth Nelson or Ray Pines, since they must remain a neutral party.) If you don’t have a lawyer, but your spouse does, that’s not a problem. Mr. Nelson or Mr. Pines will still mediate your case.