Mediation Services FAQs

Below we’ve listed brief discussions of several common questions dealing with mediation which we hope you find helpful and informative. These postings are for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice.

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which the mediator, a trained, neutral person, assists the participants to negotiate an agreement of the dispute. The participants remain in control of all decisions to settle the terms of any resolution. Unlike going to court, the mediation process is conducted in a private setting with flexible scheduling. Consequently, parties in mediation are less likely to feel stressed and under pressure. The participants make all decisions, not an anonymous judge.

The mediator’s role is to facilitate the discussion and to help the participants find creative solutions to their situation. The mediator remains impartial throughout the process to find common ground for solutions that will work.

The end product from a successful mediation is an agreement that the parties sign and usually file with the court. Once a judge has reviewed and approved the agreement, the agreement itself becomes an enforceable court order.

Unlike traditional court proceedings, mediation is not based on a “winner-take-all” approach. Instead, the focus of mediation is to enable parties to realistically assess their positions and to cooperate to reach a mutually agreeable solution. The goal is for the parties to create a written agreement, which accurately reflects the terms that each party feels are fair, balanced, and realistic. Mediation provides a non-threatening, neutral setting where people can communicate more effectively. Our trained mediators guide the couple to come to an agreement while enabling the maintenance of long-term relationships.
Usually the couple and the mediator participate in confidential meetings to work out the details of their agreement. It’s the mediator’s job to get the couple to make their own decisions, not to impose a settlement. The mediator, through discussions with both sides, attempts to facilitate a negotiated solution by having each party recognize his or her true needs as well as those of the other side. In sum, mediation seeks a settlement through enabling parties to see their dispute from the perspective of their “interests” rather than their “rights” or “positions.”

The focus of mediation is to explore the potential for change in the behaviors and attitudes that have led to conflict, a confusion of roles and expectations, and a breakdown in communication. The goal is for the parties to create a consensual, written agreement that the couple feels is fair, balanced, realistic, and accurately reflects the issues raised and addressed in the mediation.

Mediation is not litigation. It does not determine who is right or wrong. All points of view are considered valid. Mediation is not counseling. Mediation recognizes the emotional issues in a conflict, but it focuses on finding a workable solution to the problems, rather than the cause of the problem.

Please call to get our current hourly rates. The overall costs depend on how many sessions are needed to reach a final settlement. There is also a separate fee for writing up the agreement as well as the paperwork for filing with the court. There are separate filing fees payable to the court.
It varies and depends on how motivated the couple is to cooperate and discuss potential solutions to resolve their case. If you have already reached basic agreement and the mediator’s job is to help you put it in writing, it may take as few as two sessions. Our mediators can then draft a legal, binding custody and property settlement agreement for you. Typically, to complete a full agreement with the required financial disclosures and other related documents, about two to four two-hour sessions are required. The couple sets the pace, but the mediator will keep the process focused and moving forward.
Yes, but not necessarily at the first session. We’ll start by discussing what brings each of you to mediation and what you each see as the facts the mediator needs to know. Next, we’ll agree to the issues that need to be resolved. Then by having each of you create a list of expenses, assets and debts, typically as homework, we begin a comfortable, working relationship that can carry through to a successful resolution of all the issues.
Mediation is faster, less expensive, and tends to create much less emotional turbulence for you and your children than the adversarial litigation process. Mediations involve far fewer people and systems than litigation. Mediation is a fairly streamlined process. Divorce mediation is designed to tamp down the emotional turbulence associated with divorce. Mediation is a rational process with simple, but effective, methods that help separating couples learn to communicate – for their benefit and that of their children.
Failure to communicate well – or at all – should not hold you back if you are considering divorce mediation. Many couples come to mediation because of their inability to talk to one another — but they usually end up working together on problems once they are in the mediation room. Mediators are highly skilled at helping couples move through their ingrained and negative communication patterns so that real progress can be made in their divorce settlement.
Attorney representation is encouraged, but is not required. Some clients have a divorce attorney counsel them every step of the way. Others receive no legal counsel at all. Attorneys are welcome to attend mediation sessions.
Once you are divorced, the component parts of your Mediation Agreement will be incorporated into a court order once the judge signs it.
Situations involving serious patterns of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental disability are evaluated on a case-by-case basis as to their appropriateness for mediation. There has been some success with these situations; however, caution is necessary when there is an imbalance of power, when a party may have difficulty negotiating reasonably, or when there may be an inability to comply with an agreement.