Divorce Mediation

Mediation is a process in which a Mediator, an impartial third party, facilitates the resolution of family disputes by promoting the participants’ voluntary agreement. Mediation also encourages the participants to explore options, make decisions and reach their own agreements. Mediation is non-adversarial with the objective of helping the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Divorce Mediation is most commonly used when a couple has decided to divorce and wants to control the process. In every divorce, the parties must: restructure the family unit, address financial issues, follow state law and court procedures. The Mediator, through training and specialized knowledge, facilitates the parties in addressing all of these matters.

Divorce Mediation is not a substitute for the need for family members to obtain independent legal advice or counseling or therapy. Nor is it appropriate for all families. However, experience has established that family mediation is a valuable option for many families because it can:

  • increase the self-determination of participants and their ability to communicate;
  • promote the best interests of children;
  • and reduce the economic and emotional costs associated with the resolution of family disputes.

Mediation may also be used in family matters such as pre-nuptial agreements, grandparent issues, domestic partnerships, and post-divorce disputes.

Advantages of Mediation Over Litigation

Litigation is:

  • Expensive
  • Time consuming
  • Public
  • Adversarial
  • Destructive of long-term relationships
  • Characterized by winners and losers

Mediation is:

  • Cooperative
  • Less expensive
  • Quicker
  • Confidential
  • Supportive of relationships
  • Characterized by all parties being winners

The Role of the Mediator

The primary role of a Mediator is to assist the participants to gain a better understanding of their own needs and interests and the needs and interests of others and to facilitate agreement among the participants.

A Mediator explains the mediation process, provides a supportive, non-confrontational setting in which to negotiate, assists the parties to understand and analyze the facts and issues, keeps the parties focused on the issues, helps the parties gain control of their dispute, and facilitates creative and cost-effective solutions.

How Divorce Mediation Works

Divorce Mediation is a step-by-step process through which separating couples arrive at a fair agreement which is acceptable to both parties. Some examples of questions that come up during the mediation process are: Who will the children live with?; How much visitation will the non-residential parent have?; How much support will be paid?; What does support cover?; Who gets to stay in the house?; Who will get the money from the property we own?; How will our investments be divided?; Do we have to share our retirement plans?; Who will pay the credit card debt?

A skilled and experienced Mediator is able to create a safe and cooperative environment which encourages open and honest discussion, while remaining impartial at all times. The mediation process culminates in an agreement, which details the specifics of your mutually agreed upon decisions. This agreement is the basis of the divorce decree.

Collaborative DIVORCE

Collaborative Law, Collaborative Process, and Collaborative Divorce are terms often used interchangeably. However, they are all components of Collaborative Practice, which includes:

  • the voluntary and free exchange of information;
  • the pledge not to litigate and the withdrawal of both attorneys should either party initiate litigation in spite of this pledge;
  • the commitment to resolutions that respect the parties’ shared goals.

Differences Between Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation

In Divorce Mediation, an impartial third party, the Mediator, facilitates the negotiations of the disputing parties and tries to help them settle their case. The Mediator, however, cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot be an advocate for either side.

Collaborative Divorce was designed to allow clients to have their lawyers with them during the negotiation process. It is the job of the lawyers, who have received training similar to the training that Mediators receive in interest-based negotiation, to work with their own clients and one another to assure that the process stays balanced, positive and productive.

Both Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation rely on the voluntary and free exchange of information and a commitment to resolutions that respect the parties’ shared goals. Professional advice should be sought when deciding whether Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce is the best process for any individual case.

What is a Collaborative Team?

The premise of the “collaborative team” is that parties and their chosen professionals act as a problem-solving team rather than as adversaries. A collaborative team can be any combination of professionals that the parties choose to work with to resolve their dispute.

What is an Interdisciplinary Team Model?

The interdisciplinary collaborative team model is a multi-disciplinary team approach to dispute resolution in separation and divorce, which includes attorneys, coaches, a financial specialist, and when there are minor children, a child specialist working interactively as co-equals. Professionals on the team all subscribe to the same core values and shared beliefs, that none of the team members will be involved in any court process concerning a shared case, and all members will withdraw from the case if it becomes a court process.

This integrated model provides the couple with the services they need from the professional most qualified to address each of the complex and varied issues of divorce. Working together, these Collaborative professionals help divorcing couples achieve an outcome that would not be possible without this cooperative team involvement.

Differences Between Collaborative Divorce and Conventional Divorce

In conventional divorce, one spouse sues the other for divorce and sets in motion a series of legal steps. These eventually result in a settlement achieved with the involvement of the court. Unfortunately, spouses going through a conventional divorce can come to view each other as adversaries, and their divorce as a battleground. The ensuing conflicts can take an immense toll on the emotions of all the participants, especially the children.

Collaborative Divorce, by definition, is a non-adversarial approach to divorce. The spouses — and their lawyers — pledge in writing not to go to court. They negotiate in good faith, and achieve a mutually-agreed upon settlement outside of court. The cooperative nature of Collaborative Divorce can greatly ease the emotional strain caused by the breakup of a relationship, and protect the well-being of children.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

When a couple decides to pursue a Collaborative Practice divorce, they each hire Collaborative Practice lawyers. All of the parties agree in writing not to go to court. Then, the spouses meet both privately with their lawyers and in face-to-face discussions. Additional experts, such as divorce coaches and child and financial specialists, may join the process, or in many cases, be the first professional that a client sees.

These sessions between spouses and their counselors are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and expression of needs and expectations. The well-being of any children is especially addressed. Mutual problem-solving by all the parties leads to the final divorce agreement.