How does mediation help couples in a separation or divorce?
Mediation provides the opportunity for couples to collaborate and develop a plan of action for themselves (and any children) as they face the changes in their lives. It is an efficient, economical, and productive alternative to litigation that empowers couples to directly negotiate and design specific solutions for their families.
If we are seeking a divorce, why do we need to mediate terms of a separation agreement?
A separation agreement sets forth all of a couple's parenting and financial rights and responsibilities. An agreement on these topics is required if you wish to legally separate or file for a divorce, or else the issues must be negotiated through attorneys -- or decided by a judge after trial. By mediating the terms of a separation agreement, couples remain in control of the process and all of the decisions.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation provides spouses/parents with an affordable option in handling separation and divorce. By working together, spouses/parents can avoid the long legal battles that add to the emotional and financial stress in the family. Mediation promotes a creative and focused method for resolving family conflicts; proceeding through mediation to focus on how things will be handled in the future instead of indulging in a battle as to who was the better or worse parent in the past can provide the groundwork for a positive working relationship as parents going forward.
What happens in a mediation session?
In a mediation session both parties are provided with a structured environment to talk through subjects required to be covered in their agreement, and explore possible ways forward, guided by a trained mediator. In certain types of mediation (divorce, co-parenting, and separation), mediators will explain the approach taken by judges, to help parties make informed decisions.
How long do mediations last?
Each mediation session typically lasts between 1.5 to 2 hours. People involved in a separation or divorce can expect the process to range from 3 to 7 mediation sessions, depending on the nature of the subjects, whether children are involved, and the complexity of the issues.
What is the fee structure?
Mediation sessions are charged at an hourly rate for the time spent working directly with the couples in session, on a "pay as you go" basis. We do not require a retainer for mediation services.
What is a mediator’s role?
A mediator is a highly-trained dispute resolution professional who helps people navigate through conflict by allowing each to engage in a safe and structured conversation where each person can express themselves and explore possible solutions to the issues. In the case of a separation or divorce, as well as in parenting mediation, the mediator explains the applicable statutes to help make informed decisions about issues such as child support and equitable distribution; at no time is a mediator acting as an attorney, however, but always as a neutral facilitator.
Why is mediation a better approach?
Non-adversarial - Mediation is a non-adversarial process that allows both principals to speak directly with each other, avoiding the distortions and increased hostility of negotiation through lawyers. This collaborative approach aims to help couples negotiate all the terms needed to separate -- how they will divide their assets and liabilities; whether one party needs financial support from the other; and how the parenting logistics, decisions, and finances will be handled.
Neutrality - Mediators do not advocate or make decisions for people; neither do they give legal advice. Our role is to facilitate discussions, provide information about topics that need to be addressed, and help couples work out workable arrangements for the future.
Confidential - No information discussed in mediation is shared by the mediators with outside parties; the confidential nature of mediation allows participants to speak freely without fear of information being disclosed. (The only exceptions are any allegations of child abuse, or threats of imminent harm or danger to a person.)
Voluntary - Mediation is completely voluntary. Both parties agree to participate, and they are also free to terminate the mediation process at anytime if it is not proving useful for them.
Self-Determination - The mediation process empowers people to make decisions that will govern their future lives, without the intervention of a judge.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
You do not need to hire an attorney to participate in mediation. However, the mediator's role in the process is to remain neutral in order to help people negotiate the terms of their separation agreement. Hence, we recommend that each person consult with an attorney to understand the legal context and the impact of his or her decisions. This legal review/consultation may take place at the conclusion of the mediation, before signing the final agreement, or at any stage that the parties deem necessary.
How do I get started?
If you are considering mediation and would like to know more about how we might be able to assist you, please reach out to us at 212-710-9395 or Info [at] OrchardMediation [dot] com, so that we can provide whatever information you need, and discuss your situation.