At the Centre for Mediation and Dispute Resolution, staff members are available weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to answer your questions. The following listing presents a sampling of questions most frequently asked by prospective clients.
How long does the mediation process take?
Each mediation session is scheduled for two hours. After over 30 years of offering mediation services, we find that the average mediation takes about seven sessions. Yet this is only an average. Some couples take considerably less time and others take more time. You and your spouse are the key players in setting the timetable.
The duration of the process is not necessarily measured by the complexity of your estate. The secret to an efficient mediation process often lies with the couple’s ability to do their “homework” and the mediator’s ability to facilitate the decision-making.
What issues/areas are covered in mediation?
The mediation process will cover the following areas, if applicable to your situation:
Division of assets and liabilities
Custody and parenting
Support: child support and/or alimony
Health insurance and uninsured health expenses
Education of children, including postsecondary education and in some situations the education of a spouse
Life insurance and will provisions
Tax implications and terms
Additional issues emerge in mediations depending upon each couple’s view of the areas to be covered and their interest in exploring the present and future consequences of their final agreement.
What are the essential differences between mediation and litigation?
The most significant differences in the two processes is who determines the outcome. In a litigated divorce, the judge decides. In a mediated divorce, you and your spouse decide. With the assistance of an experienced mediator, you will work together to design an agreement that meets your needs and that of all family members. The final document is personally tailored to your family and does not represent a cookie-cutter, boiler plate document with names, places and dollars changed.
Will we save money by mediating?
Yes. Mediation is considerably less expensive than litigated divorces, negotiated divorces, and even collaborative lawyer divorces. Even when clients retain reviewing or consulting attorneys, the savings is substantial.
At CMDR, we maintain that not only is the process less costly at the time of divorce, but the end product is structured to anticipated changes in the future, thereby providing a road map for making changes without returns to court or even to mediation. In the long run, the cost savings in money, time and emotional tensions are incalculable.
How will I know if I’m getting a fair deal?
Mediation is not a process that takes place in a “space” outside the law. It is the mediator’s responsibility to help you to make knowledgeable decisions. You should be helped to weigh the options and to explore alternatives. You should understand the impact of each alternative on you and your spouse—where you are making a compromise and where your spouse is providing you with an advantage.
All clients are encouraged to seek legal review of their agreement prior to going to court.
How long will it take for us to be divorced?
Once you have a completed agreement, you will need to file the document with the court clerk in the appropriate county and request a date to appear before the judge. In general the court tries to provide you with a hearing date within 30 days of your filing.
The judge will need to approve your petition to divorce based on his or her interpretation of the fairness of the document. The judge’s approval will take place at the hearing. After the hearing there is a 30 day wait period in which either party may withdraw the petition to divorce; after the expiration of this 30 day wait period, there is a 90 day period of time in which it takes both parties to withdraw their petition. Thus after 120 days your petition for a lA No Fault divorce becomes a Divorce Absolute.
May we elect to use mediation for only some—not all- of the areas covered by an agreement?
Absolutely you may. Some couples enter mediation to reach agreement on a single issue or in a single area, such as custody. It is not uncommon for representing attorneys to refer clients to mediation when there appears to be an impasse in the couples’ ability to reach a full settlement.
I am interested in using mediation, but my spouse is uncertain. Can a mediator help convince my spouse?
The best route to helping your spouse to consider mediation is to encourage him or her to schedule with you a free consultation with a mediator. In addition materials are available by request as well as on our website. Telephone consultation, without charge, can also be scheduled.
Please Call Our Office For Answers To Your Questions – 781.239.1600