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Mediation & Estate Planning
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Why consider mediation?
If you would like to consider alternatives that provide out-of-court resolution, mediation may be a good choice. It is a confidential process that allows time and space for discussing parenting plans, finances, property, and any other topics you want to address. Mediation is the least adversarial and least expensive method of separation and divorce. With mediation, the decision-making authority rests with you, not lawyers or judges. The assumption is that you and your partner know the situation better than anyone else. Mediation can be faster, simpler, cheaper, private, and more sensible than litigation. A long-term study of families that either litigated or mediated showed non-resident parents who mediated custody later spent more time in contact with their children than those who litigated.

What are the advantages of Mediation?

  • Affordable. Mediation can cost considerably less than litigation.
  • Efficient. The meditation process can usually settle a dispute within a few sessions. Most mediations conclude or settle within thirty days from initiating the process.
  • Effective. Mediation statistically settles over 85% of initiated disputes.
  • Informal. The process of Mediation is flexible and informal. It is not necessary to have an attorney represent you during the mediation process. However, some individuals feel more comfortable with attorney representation.
  • Empowering. Participating parties are directly engaged in the negotiation of their settlement; the plan created is their own, and because the parties understand the issues and complexities better than anyone else, they can craft a plan that is uniquely effective for their situation.
  • Confidential. Information disclosed during mediation may not be divulged as evidence in any trial or judicial proceeding. You will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to mediation.
  • Voluntary. Participation is up to the parties; it is a choice rather than an order. The parties decide if mediation is an appropriate approach for their situation.

What is the process of divorce mediation?
Mediation allows for an objective, private forum where a couple can discuss individual needs and work out a plan for property distribution, support, custody, parenting issues and whatever else they want to discuss. The parties meet and work together with the mediator to develop a plan that is fair and agreeable to both parties. The process is voluntary, so your plan is up to you, not a judge. The settlement is then put in the form of a written agreement by the mediator. Often, the written settlement agreement can be processed through the court without the need for a formal hearing.

What are the cost benefits of divorce mediation?
 

Divorce or separation can be a traumatic experience. Successfully resolving disputes or arrangements after such separation can be very difficult, especially if you place high importance on closure and civility. That is why divorce mediation can be an option. A mediator provides a fair playing field so the parties will feel comfortable and in control of their destiny. You can complete your legal paperwork, draft a settlement agreement and never have to go to court. Key advantages of divorce mediation include:

  • It can be less costly than the adversarial process due to the active involvement of the couple & the mediator. Even if each party wants a lawyer involved, there will likely be less court involvement and less costs because a settlement and required disclosure can all be coordinated through the mediation process.
  • Mediation provides a single, reliable venue for information sharing, which can eliminate conflicts before they arise and reduce the cost of dealing with those conflicts.
  • Studies show that couples who have worked together through a mediator are over three times more likely to uphold the terms of their agreement than couples who have divorced through the adversarial system, thus reducing/eliminating continued litigation after the divorce is completed.
  • Mediation allows for a thoughtful exploration of the issues by the parties rather than a few stressful moments before a judge, so there is time and space to develop creative, flexible solutions.

How much does Mediation cost?
Charges can range from a flat fee to charges per session. The cost is typically less than the cost of litigation.

How long will Mediation take?
Mediation takes considerably less time than litigation. However, this time varies depending on the complexity of the dispute and the amount of parities involved. The average mediation can be limited to one or two sessions, but can easily extend to several weeks due to the factors previously mentioned. Divorce mediation that includes the processing of all court documents typically takes two to three sessions.

What are the chances that my case will settle in Mediation?
Statistically, over 85% of cases settle during the mediation process.

Are Mediation settlements binding?
Yes. A signed settlement agreement is as enforceable as any other contractual agreement.

Will I lose my chance to file a lawsuit if I participate in Mediation?
No. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. If your mediation session does not result in a settlement, you have every right to pursue legal remedies through litigation.

The Role of the Mediator
Mediators have important roles in the mediation process, but they do not have the final word on any issue. Their goal is to reduce obstacles to communication to identify issues that need to be resolved between parties. A mediator explores alternatives with fairness, integrity, and impartiality, and allow parties to reach voluntary agreements to resolve disputes. Ultimately, this leaves decision-making solely in the hands of the clients.