Will Divorce Mediation Work for Me?
With the Courts being closed for in-person business, and with virtual hearing dates delayed because of the backlog in cases needing attention, some families are turning to mediation to resolve their divorce. As a family law practitioner, I will share some of my thoughts on the mediation process and whether mediation will work for you.
WHAT IS THE MEDIATION PROCESS?
As a mediator, I act as a neutral but informed arbiter of disputes, guiding both parties to a resolution of both financial and custodial disputes based upon how I believe the case would be resolved in a court of law. There are several steps to mediation, including:
- We will discuss various options for parenting plans, taking into consideration such factors as the ages of the children, the distance between the parents’ respective new residences, the parents’ and the children’s schedules, and any special needs a child may have. Ultimately, a parenting plan will be drafted by me and signed off by both parties.
- Both parties will sign sworn financial affidavits, using the court-approved forms that I provide you, attesting to your income, assets, expenses and liabilities.
- Both parties will exchange financial information which the parties deem is necessary to enter into a financial settlement, such as bank and retirement account records. Sometimes an appraisal of the marital home or a business is necessary to establish the value of these assets.
- We will discuss support issues such as alimony and child support. I use financial software to assist the parties in understanding his or her budgets and the tax implications of a support order. I also use financial software to calculate child support under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines.
- During the negotiation process the parties and the mediator meet together and collaborate in person, by phone or through zoom. With the permission of both parties, I can also speak with the parties individually to address specific concerns or questions.
- Ultimately, the goal is to agree upon and enter into a financial settlement drafted by the mediator.
WILL MEDIATION WORK FOR ME?
Mediation can be a great way to resolve your divorce case. It is cost efficient, allows the parties to resolve their differences more amicably, and it takes less time than waiting to be heard in Court. I tell clients that to have a successful mediation, a few things need to happen:
- The parties need some level of trust. Although you may have review counsel to look over a final agreement, you are still trusting your spouse to engage in the mediation process honestly, disclosing his or her income and assets, without the type of enhanced oversight that would be present in a more litigated context.
- The parties need to be willing to speak with each other and work collaboratively with the mediator. Sometimes a client hires me to avoid speaking directly with his or her spouse. Mediation requires communication with each other.
- The parties need to be able to agree on custodial and visitation issues without court intervention. The parties can still speak with a therapist or parenting coordinator to assist them in resolving disputes, but ultimately an agreement on parenting issues is necessary to move the mediation forward to conclusion.