Frequently Asked Questions

                                                                               In Divorce Mediation

 

What is mediation?

         Mediation is an efficient and inexpensive process designed to help people reach the          best agreements for them when separating or divorcing.  A trained professional          mediator assists you in obtaining the information you need and to focus on  the          issues that must be resolved in order to separate or dissolve a marriage (divorce)          as amicably as possible.

 

What training does someone need to become a mediator?

        Most divorce and family mediators have completed a basic (40 hour) divorce and         family mediation training course.  In addition, mediators generally pursue additional         training in the substantive issues regarding separation and marriage dissolution.

 

 What happens in mediation? 

         Usually participants and the mediator meet together in a private room.  Each party          speaks about what is important to him or her and listens to what is important to           the other side.  The mediator facilitates the discussion.  Occasionally, the mediator          may wish to speak with each participant privately (and confidentially).  The                 mediator does not decide who is right or wrong.  The parties determine the          outcome.  Both participants must mutually agree to any settlement. 

 

What makes mediation successful?

         Mediation will be successful if the participants negotiate in good faith, demonstrate           flexibility in how to resolve matters, listen to the other side with an open mind, and          share their point of view. 

 

How confidential is mediation?

         Mediation is a completely private process, not open to the public.  You will be asked          to sign a confidentiality agreement before beginning mediation.  The mediator is          bound by law to keep mediation discussions confidential. 

 

Do children participate?

         Generally, no.  In some cases, however, children may participate.  Inclusion                     depends on factors such as the topic, agreement of the mediator and the parents,           the child's maturity level, and the child's willingness.

 

Is a mediated agreement binding?

          If dissolution for marriage or another family issue is filed in court, any agreement           reached by the participants may be filed in court.  However, an agreement must be           approved by a judge and incorporated into a court order or divorce decree to           become legally binding.

          If your dispute is not filed in court, the agreement is usually considered to be a           contract.  Depending on the nature of the agreement and the dispute, if there is a            breach of the contract you might be able to file a claim with the court.  

 

How long will mediation take?

         Since each separation and dissolution of marriage is different, it is difficult to predict          exactly how long a specific mediation will last.  In general, a full dissolution of             marriage, including custody issues, division of property and assets, takes three to          eight sessions.  In addition, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of                         Understanding, outline all of the agreement reached through the mediation                     process.  Mediation is voluntary and any participant, including the mediator, may          end it at any time. 

 

How long are the sessions?

         Generally, mediation sessions are scheduled to last approximately 2 hours,          depending on the couple's needs and available time.  Some couples prefer longer          sessions while others find shorter ones more productive.  

 

Will we meet weekly with the mediator?  

         At the initial mediation session, you will identify the issues that need to be decided           in order to separate or dissolve your marriage.  The issues, the urgency of the          decisions, and how quickly the participants wish to proceed will determine the              meeting schedule. 

 

How much will mediation cost?

          Mediation costs will be based on an hourly fee.  This fee will be charged for all           mediation sessions and non-session work, such as time spent reviewing and            drafting documents, telephone consultations, correspondence, and consultations           by the mediator with other professionals.  The cost of mediation is generally                     significantly less than the cost of divorce without mediation.  This remains true           even if both participants have retained their own legal counsel. 

          For example, assuming the participants meet with a mediator five times for two           hours each time, and that there is an additional two hours of mediator time for            drafting the Memorandum of Understanding, the cost of mediation at $150 per               hour would be a total of $1800.  This amount would generally be split between the           two participants. 

 

Do I need a lawyer in order to use mediation?

         You do not need a lawyer to go to a mediation.  However, mediators will              

         recommend that each spouse retain an attorney when dissolving their marriage.  A
         mediator focuses on bridging conflict through improved communication and
         facilitates the participants in reaching their own agreements.  Even when the
         mediator is a lawyer, the mediator is not acting as a lawyer and cannot represent
         either mediation participant.  A lawyer will provide legal counsel and can draft
         documents for filing with the court.  One of the advantages of mediation is that a
         participant will likely use fewer legal services. 

 

If I use mediation, will I still need to go to court?

         Using mediation to resolve issues surrounding dissolution of a marriage does not          eliminate filing in court.  However, if the participants are able to reach a mutually          agreeable resolution to all of the property, financial, custody, parenting and other           issues, and the court accepts the settlement, court appearances likely will be           reduced, if not eliminated.  Generally, the more done outside of court to decide          issues, the better. 

 

What information must be disclosed to my spouse and to the mediator?

         If the goal of mediation is to reach a settlement regarding all the disputed issues of          a divorce, all financial information must be disclosed as part of the mediation                process.  The mediator will work with each participant to determine income,                   expenses, assets, liabilities, retirement funds, and other financial information                 required as part of a legal dissolution of marriage.  Should information be withheld         during the mediation process, any agreement reached will not be valid.

 

What is discussed during mediation?

         In a typical mediation, the following issues must be addressed in order to generate         an agreement that may be submitted to the court:

   >> Children - Parenting responsibility and time, living arrangements, legal and           physical custody, insurance, education, support, and any other issues that           may arise.  

   >> Assets - How to apportion the marital property such as the marital home,             cars, retirement funds, and other personal property.

   >> Debts - How to apportion what is owed on debts like credit cards and          mortgages.

   >> Spousal Support - Whether there will be spousal support, in what amount,              and for how long.  

   >> Insurance and Medical Expenses

   >> Tax Issues

                                                                                                   

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Johnson Mediation Services