Mediation involves a neutral third party who has no stake in the outcome of your case. Mediation is confidential, and anything discussed during mediation cannot be later used against you during the divorce process. Under the protection of confidentiality, spouses are encouraged to be honest about the issues in the case, as well as prospective offers for settlement. Mediation is voluntary and provides a forum for which a settlement may be amicably reached that is more satisfactory for both parties. Mediation would take place with your attorney present, so that your legal questions and concerns can be addressed, and there are structured settlement negotiations.
During mediation, the terms of your divorce are left for you and your spouse to determine by engaging in civilized conversations with a mediator and your attorney present. If you go to Court, however, you and your spouse lose control over the outcome because the Judge has the final say. That option might sound appealing if the Judge rules in your favor, but you run the risk of the Judge ruling against you and in favor of your spouse. With mediation, you and your spouse can meet in the middle and tailor a resolution specific to your family’s needs with the assistance of counsel. Litigation does not offer creative solutions that are available in mediation.
Since mediation takes places at a private office rather than the courthouse, none of your personal information is publicly revealed. Successful mediation can substantially reduce the emotional and financial costs of litigation. Mediation is also faster than litigation since you will not have to wait for a court date on the crowded docket.
If you and your spouse cannot agree during mediation, you always reserve the option to return to litigation.
Attorneys at the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino, Esq., LLC frequently utilize mediation to resolve disputes between spouses or co-parents. We can help you select an experienced mediator that is tailored to the unique needs of your case, whether that be parenting time issues, division of assets, spousal support, or other contentious topics. Call us today to see if mediation is right for your case.
My spouse and I cannot sit in the same room together. Can we still benefit from mediation?
Yes. Sometimes mediators employ a method called caucusing. If you and your spouse cannot sit in the same room together, the mediator can go back and forth between separate rooms to help you reach a mutual resolution.
Is mediation more expensive than litigation?
Generally, no. A mediator is compensated for his or her time. You and your spouse will have to pay the mediator at the end of the session. If you are the supported spouse, your primary wage-earning spouse can advance the mediation fees on your behalf. While a Judge’s time comes at no cost to litigants, the amount of counsel fees spent preparing for litigation can be daunting. Mediation saves you money in the long run because less counsel fees are spent during the formal litigation process, like conducting discovery, preparing exhibits, and deposing witnesses at trial. Mediation saves you and your spouse a significant amount of counsel fees, leaving more in your pocket for you and your children.
Do I attend mediation alone or with my attorney?
Attorneys attend mediation with their clients. If either you or your spouse do not have an attorney, mediation is still possible.
If I make an offer during mediation am I held to that offer?
No. Everything you say during mediation is confidential. The only way you will be held to an agreement is if it is reduced to writing and signed by both parties.
What happens if we do not reach an agreement during mediation?
Sometimes it takes several mediation sessions to reach an agreement. Have realistic goals for mediation, and perhaps address one issue at a time. You can limit discussions to solely financial issues or parenting time issues. Other contentious issues can be reserved for a later date, or left for litigation.
Do I need to bring anything with me to mediation?
If you have an attorney, your attorney will bring everything that you need. You do not need to bring anything. Your attorney will prepare a mediation statement in advance. This summarizes the issues for your mediator and is submitted prior to the session. You will have an opportunity to review and approve the summary before it is submitted. Your spouse will also receive a copy of your mediation statement, and you will receive a copy of theirs. These summaries highlight the areas of contention so that the mediator can make productive use of your session.
What do I wear to mediation?
Business casual. Mediation is less formal that litigation, since sessions are conducted at a private office rather than the courthouse.
Who do I pick as a mediator?
We can suggest the names of several great, experienced, and professional mediators in the area. You and your spouse will have to agree upon the mediator.
Can my spouse and I just go to mediation and avoid hiring attorneys?
Each of you have the right to represent yourselves. However, having an attorney present to advise you on your rights, options, and alternatives can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. An experienced family law attorney can let you know if an offer is fair and reasonable, or incredibly one-sided. If you represent yourself, you lack the experience to determine whether you are getting a good deal. Once an agreement is reached, it is difficult to alter, especially if that alteration is close in time to the original agreement. You only get one chance to do it right.