WHAT IS EARLY-STAGE DIVORCE MEDIATION?
- Divorcing couples voluntarily retain an impartial and qualified mediator to facilitate their agreement on all parenting and property issues, including consideration of spousal maintenance. This is an alternative to litigation and, therefore, is referred to as “early stage.” Mediation conducted “on the courthouse steps” just before trial is called “late stage mediation” or “settlement conferences.”
- In early stage divorce mediation, the parties are in charge of making the decisions and the mediator’s role is to help develop options, overcome roadblocks, achieve consensus, and write up the parties’ agreement at the conclusion.
- The couple and the mediator meet periodically (for 2 hour sessions with this mediator) in a confidential setting (typically, the mediator’s office or conference room) to resolve all issues.
- The mediator is paid for his time at the end of each session so the clients always know where they stand. The next session is scheduled at the end of each session.
- The parties may have lawyers present if they wish. Otherwise, lawyers, if any, are available between mediation sessions as legal coaches who are comfortable with mediated outcomes.
- As the mediation sessions unfold, this mediator drafts Progress Notes after each session and updates a working draft of the tentative property, child support, and parenting agreements.
- The draft settlement agreement and divorce forms are reviewed and revised as necessary, and presented to the divorcing couple and/or their legal counsel to complete the non-contested divorce in court.
- With the help of a trained and experienced mediator, divorcing couples can resolve their parenting and property issues with integrity, respect, and fairness in a cost-effective manner.