Yes. In divorce mediation, the couple pays one mediator instead of two competing attorneys. Also, having both parties together during the mediation sessions dramatically shortens the entire process resulting in far less billable time for the mediator. The cost of divorce mediation is, on average, 30% – 70% lower than the cost of a traditional divorce.
Yes. Couples find that one of the most important (and personally fulfilling) aspects of divorce mediation is the opportunity for the parents to create a sound parenting plan that will ameliorate some of the traumatic changes faced by the children of divorcing parents. In a traditional adversarial divorce, important decisions about the children’s futures are often taken out of the parents’ hands and made by judges and lawyers. In divorce mediation, the two people who best know the children and their needs …the parents, work together to create a plan that will best serve the needs of the children.
A divorce mediator meets with the couple and establishes a rapport with them and helps them develop an agenda of issues to discuss. The mediator facilitates the parties’ discussion – in a sense, you could say that the mediator helps improve the quality of the conversation. We will assist you in negotiating agreements about the important issues in divorce. The mediator will provide information about how the laws apply to various situations. Often the mediator will share his/her experience with you concerning the various ways that other couples have resolved various issues. The mediator will take notes and draft an agreement – called a Separation Agreement.
Yes. Unlike traditional adversarial divorces, mediated divorces are private and confidential. Private lives and family finances are not paraded before the public.
No. Although many divorce mediators are attorneys, there is no legal requirement that a mediator be a practicing attorney. Some mediators come to the field with a background in psychology or other mental health disciplines. As a practical matter though, it is necessary that a mediator be thoroughly versed in divorce and family law of the state in which he/she is practicing. At the Divorce Mediation Group, your mediator will be an attorney with many years of experience in Massachusetts’ family law.
No. The mediator does not represent either party in a mediation.
The decision as to how and when to use lawyers belongs to you. Sometimes, people will consult with lawyers before or during the mediation process. In this context, lawyers are sometimes used as resources for information and/or coaches. More often people decide to see an attorney after they have the entire agreement negotiated. At that point, the participant will be seeking the lawyer’s advice as to whether the agreement is in her/his best interests. Your Divorce Mediation Group mediator will urge you to consult with a lawyer before you sign the agreement.
Mediated settlements are more comprehensive, and are cooperative in nature, producing a much higher level of compliance by both spouses and a much lower rate of expensive relitigation.
It depends on the complexity of the issues and the willingness and ability of the parties to effectively negotiate. Typically, a couple will complete the process in 2-4 sessions. A session generally lasts 90 minutes. Sometimes a couple will spend a greater amount of time in mediation. The parties are in charge of how long they spend in the mediation process.
We charge by the hour for the mediation sessions and our hourly rate is $325. There is a 2 hour or $650 charge for drafting the agreement. Total costs for mediation and drafting of the agreement typically run between $1500 and $2500.
After you have signed the agreement, it needs to be filed with the court. During the mediation process, we will provide to you, at no charge, a kit called “How to File Your Own Divorce”. The kit contains all of the necessary forms and clear step-by-step instructions. There is also a Courtroom Guide that will enable you to present the agreement to the court and obtain your divorce. We have had hundreds of couples successfully use the “How To File Your Own Divorce” kit.
Usually the couple will divide the mediation fee equally, or according to the percentage that each spouse’s income contributes to the full family income, or sometimes the costs are paid from a joint account.
Tax questions often arise from discussion of the economic issues of divorce. Occasionally, the mediator may advise you to seek out the expert advice of an accountant, real estate appraiser, pension evaluator or other professional. The mediator will assist the couple in formulating the specific questions to be asked of the consultant.
Under the direction of an experienced mediator, even couples that enter the process with a considerable amount of animosity and tension between them find that they can participate in a mutually beneficial divorce mediation. For some couples, however, cooperative negotiation may not be possible making divorce mediation unsuitable. Your divorce mediator will help you determine your suitability for divorce mediation at your initial consultation.
A mediator is a neutral third party who has no decision making power and who assists the involved parties in voluntarily reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of the issues in dispute.
A Separation Agreement is a written document that defines the terms and conditions of your divorce. It is really a “Divorce Agreement”. It includes the parts of a parenting plan: when the children will be with each parent, appropriate custody terms, provisions for holidays and vacation, authorization for medical care, school records and what ever else the parents think would be helpful. The Separation Agreement also includes provisions for child support and education and, if appropriate, spousal support. Also included will be a property settlement and consideration of marital debt, tax issues, and health and life insurance.