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by: David P. Badanes, Esq.
Mediation is where you and your spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) sit down in the same room with a neutral mediator. The mediator does not take sides and is there to help you work through all the issues involved in a divorce (or legal separation).
Spouses who attend mediation want to get divorced (or separated), but do not know how to work through the process to get from A to Z. The mediator will present all the issues involved in a divorce (e.g., depending on the situation: child custody, child support, maintenance (alimony), splitting marital assets, pensions, paying off debts, taxes).
There are many reasons why mediation may be advantageous. One of the main advantages of divorce mediation is that it saves you money. Mediation costs thousands of dollars less than a contested divorce. Furthermore, most mediators charge a fixed fee, this way you will know exactly how much it will cost before you hire a mediator. In contrast, if you hire an attorney for a contested divorce, you typically will not know how much you will be paying as the attorney’s fees are dependent on how many hours the attorney works on your case.
The second advantage of mediation is that you and your spouse are in control of your divorce (or separation). You and your spouse make all the important decisions that will control the rest of your life. Most judges have dozens of cases and simply can’t focus on all the individual needs of your situation.
One disadvantage to mediation is that it is a voluntary process. This means that if one spouse does not cooperate or does not show up for a mediation session, the mediator cannot force that person to attend the session. Furthermore, in order for mediation to work, both parties have to be willing to:
- Talk in a civil manner to each other;
- Listen to the other person’s point of view and seriously consider it; and
- Want to get divorced or separated.
When mediation fails, it is usually because one party does not want to get divorced or separated. That person is likely hoping that by going to mediation, they are keeping the peace and that mediation will magically bring the marriage back together.
It is important to note that divorce mediation is not marriage counseling. Indeed, mediators are there to help you get divorced or separated and do not attempt to counsel the parties on their marital issues.
The Badanes Law Office in conjunction with The Smart Way Mediation provides divorce mediation services. We are unique in that in every mediation session, you get the benefit of a trained counselor and an experienced attorney. This allows us to provide both a gentle hand and with legal information in guiding you and your spouse through the mediation process. The Badanes Law Office and The Smart Way Mediation have assisted dozens of spouses in obtaining a divorce or legal separation through the divorce mediation process.