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Tips On Divorce and Family Mediation

In divorce and family mediation, parties communicate to attempt to reach a full or partial agreement on divorce, parenting, or asset and debt division. There are many benefits of reaching agreement, however the most important is that you can fashion your own remedy rather than letting a court make important decisions for you that you are then obligated to follow.

Issue Focus

Frame your issues upfront so that you can focus your efforts on the issues most important to you. Decide what your goals and priorities are. Would you like to talk about temporary orders, a parenting plan, or division of assets or debts? Framing the issues up front can aid in staying focused. It can be easy to spend too much time on issues that are not really a priority without setting goals and framing the important issues.

In mediation you may reach full or partial agreement. Even if you reach only partial agreement, you have come to a solution that is likely to work much better for you than if a Judge had decided the issue for you and you should be proud of your progress.

Attorney Participation

Parties can participate in mediation with or without the assistance of attorneys. Because a mediator is a neutral party attempting to facilitate resolution of your issues, he or she can not provide legal advice. An attorney representing you, however, can provide legal advice.

If you are represented by an attorney in the course of mediation, an attorney can assist you in framing the issues and can also prepare a confidential mediation statement. The mediation statement provides the mediator with important information up front and allows you to use your time most effectively during the mediation. For example, the mediation statement often provides a mediator with your case background and an idea of what you would like to achieve in the mediation.

Mediations can occur in various ways. You may be present in the same room with the other party the entire time, or you may break out into individual sessions with the mediator, called a “caucus.”

Preparing For Mediation

To prepare, it is helpful to bring important documents, such as pay statements, appraisals, and school calendars. You can also bring a laptop computer to access documents online. If you come prepared with specific financial data for assets and debts and expenses, you can reach practical agreements. Without the specific information, you will not be in the same position to reach an effective agreement. This is particularly the case with asset and debt division.

Mediation Agreements

The goal of mediation is to reach agreement so that the parties can avoid litigation on some or all of the issues. If you reach agreement, at some point you will have the opportunity to sign a mediation agreement that will lead to a parenting plan or separation agreement.

Is Mediation Right For Everyone?

There are some situations where mediation is not appropriate. In domestic violence situations, mediation may not be appropriate because a power imbalance often negatively impacts fair negotiation.

Cost

Mediation is generally a more cost-effective option to address divorce and family issues and it gives you the added ability to determine your own resolution rather than allowing a family court to decide important issues for you. You know best what will work for you. If you would like to explore mediation possibilities, contact a mediator and let him or her know what your goals and priorities are.

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