What to Expect at the First Mediation Appointment
Your first session at the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution may be somewhat intimidating. Even though you have spoken with a staff member, a mediator, or both, actually walking through the door may be a challenge. In an effort to make your first session less stressful, we have written a broad-brush explanation of what you can expect.
- The first session is an educational process.It is probably the only session in which the mediator does most of the talking. It is essential to understand that mediation is not therapy and it is not litigation. There is no fault or blame placed on either party. A full financial disclosure is necessary as is a “fair” division of all property. Please note that fair is a relative term. It is only through negotiation and compromise that fairness is achieved. Participation in mediation at CMDR is completely voluntary, and the mediator will explain that a couple or individual may choose to stop mediation, or to put the process on hold, at any time.
- The mediator will inquire about your concerns and what you anticipate are your major issue(s).You will be asked about your current living arrangements including your home, your children, and your finances. Action items for future sessions will be determined.
- CMDR has a packet for each client that includes a Personal History Form, CMDR’s Rules of Mediation, and a contract explaining our fees.These will need to be read and the personal information completed. If you have any questions about any of the information in the packet, the mediator can answer them.
- Frequently, couples will ask about a Temporary Agreement to resolve issues around support and custody while the mediation is in process.The decisions regarding the Temporary Agreement are not an indication of what either spouse needs or can afford relative to the final agreement. In many cases, couples are managing financially and do not need a Temporary Agreement. It is up to each couple to establish what works best for them.
- During your first session, the mediator will cover the different areas to be addressed for you to reach a thorough and thoughtful agreement. The areas include:
- Assets and Liabilities
- Custody and Co-parenting
- Support (Spousal and/or Child Support)
- Health Care (Insured and Uninsured)
- Education (Child and/or Spousal)
- Before the end of the session, you and the mediator will determine the most appropriate area with which to begin. For the most part, couples with children start with custody. There will be some homework for your next session, but the biggest hurdle is over. You have begun the mediation process!