What does divorce mediation look like?
The divorce mediation process begins at our office begin with an intake and informational meeting that you and your spouse jointly attend. This meeting usually lasts 2 hours, although the fee is capped at 1 hour. You’ll tell us about your family situation and your hopes, goals, and concerns. We’ll explain the mediation process, provide an overview of the topics to be addressed (see divorce mediation checklist), provide forms and resources that may be helpful to you, and answer your questions. There is no pressure to commit to mediation, and almost everyone finds the orientation session to be informative and reassuring.
If you decide to go forward with mediation, then we’ll schedule mediation sessions, which are usually two hours long. Most couples complete their key decision-making in 2 to 6 meetings, depending on the complexities of the situation. When helpful, we may meet separately with each of you to help support your thinking out loud about your options.
We believe you can make the best decisions for yourselves, and we can help you reach that point. We will be unbiased, and we will not make decisions for you.
Facilitate: We will provide an environment that encourages attentive listening and good thinking. We will make sure each of you has a chance to be fully heard without interruption. We will encourage you to think about your hopes and concerns. In difficult situations, we will help you set boundaries, and we’ll encourage respectful behavior.
Guide: We have deep experience with the issues to be addressed and understand the emotional turmoil involved. We can visualize the end of the process when participants are having a hard time seeing the next step. We’ll walk you through the topics in a thoughtful sequence, helping you create a detailed and durable agreement.
Educate: We will provide a lot of information and help you gather other relevant information and documentation. If requested, we’ll share common ways other couples have handled similar situations, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. When you want to go in new directions, we can help you explore creative solutions. When you work on financial issues, we will run special software to do budgeting, calculate child support, and estimate alimony consequences.
We are pleased to offer the option of co-mediation with John and Carolyn. With co-mediation, both mediators participate in each mediation session, working together as a team to help both clients. For some couples, working with a male–female mediation team provides an increased level of comfort. For other couples, it might simply be helpful to have the perspective of an additional mediator.
AGENDAS, HOMEWORK, AND SESSION SUMMARIES
The agenda for each session will be discussed in advance and you’ll be given homework suggestions (to do either individually or jointly) to help you prepare for the meeting. After each meeting, we will send you a written summary with the topics discussed, decisions made, suggested homework, and proposed agenda for the next meeting.
Once you’ve completed your decision-making, we’ll draft your agreement (if you are a Maryland or DC resident). We’ll then meet again to review the agreement together and fill in any remaining details. When we provide a revised agreement, we recommend that you have this draft agreement reviewed by your own attorney.
ROLE OF ATTORNEYS IN MEDIATION
Our goal is for you to be making fully-informed decisions. Toward that end, you’ll determine the level of professional advice you would find helpful. We recommend that you have your own attorney review the draft agreement. Some clients find it helpful to consult with an attorney between meetings to discuss options. Most couples complete the divorce mediation process without having their attorneys participate in the sessions. In some cases, however, it has proved helpful to have the attorneys attend. We’re glad to refer you to mediation-friendly attorneys.
Divorce mediation has a high success rate, and for most couples the divorce mediation process ends with the signing of a legally enforceable agreement. We have an office tradition at the conclusion of a mediation of acknowledging the important and cooperative work that you’ve accomplished. Clients often talk about their pride in how they’ve managed this difficult transition in their lives.
If you have decided to divorce, your next step will be to file at the court once you meet the grounds (legal reason) for divorce. You will then be scheduled for a short court hearing to confirm that you meet the legal reason to obtain a divorce. Since you have a signed Marital Settlement Agreement, there will be no substantive decisions for the judge to make.
Learn more about the divorce mediation process in our 20-minute recorded webinar.