State College Divorce Mediation Lawyers
What is full service divorce mediation?
Full service divorce mediation is what it sounds like. The mediator’s method of mediating is “client centered,” meaning whatever the issue or issues everything can and should be dealt with during the mediation. Common concerns involved in a divorce are how to split up property, support of the children, and parenting time of the children among others. If the session reaches a point where more information is needed, a financial question for example, and more time is needed, the session breaks and reschedules for another day until the information can be obtained. The mediator uses his best efforts to reschedule as soon as the calendar allows.
Divorce mediation offers quite a different approach to resolving conflicts between the parties. It asserts that, even though the parties have decided they can no longer live together as husband and wife, they believe:
- Each person is entitled to full respect as a person and is equally valuable as a person and a parent.
- The parties can work together in good faith to come to a settlement that both parties have total involvement and a say in making as opposed to leaving it to a judge to make the decision for them.
- Neither party has an interest in “winning” over the other in terms of money, property, or other conditions of the settlement.
- Each party is interested in planning for the future through having his or her needs met to the extent permitted by available resources (the budgeting process), realizing that the other party has needs that must also be met.
- (Realizing that not all marriages have children) Both parties acknowledge that they are committed to providing parenting for their children even though they will no longer be married to each other.
What is the role of a mediator?
The role of the mediator is to conduct a mediation based on the principle of party self-determination while maintaining neutrality. Self-determination is the act of coming to a voluntary, uncoerced decision in which each party makes a free and informed choice as to the process and outcome. The mediator works to maintain a neutral stance in the mediation while balancing and guiding each party’s self-determination.
How is mediation different from litigation?
Mediation creates a supportive and constructive environment that promotes communication and balances power differences. All people involved attend mediation at the same time and meet in the same room with the mediator. The mediator works to guide participants to settlement. Conversely, in the adversarial system (litigation), each person has their own attorney who advocates for them and the people might not communicate directly with each other, but through their attorneys. Litigation’s goal is not to encourage cooperation but rather encourages ripping down the other party as the means to “win” sometimes at any cost. Sometimes a judge ends up deciding the outcome instead of you imposing the judge’s decision on you.
How do I get started?
We offer divorcing couples a consultation with the mediator. At the consultation, the mediator will get a sense of your case and answer your questions about divorce and the mediation process. The consultation is also an opportunity for couples to get a sense of the neutral role of the mediator and what the working sessions will be like. The mediator will also offer other resources that may be helpful to you both when deciding what to do next. If mediation appeals to both of you, you may schedule working session.
Should I hire an attorney?
It is not necessary for couples who attend mediation to hire an attorney. The choice of whether or not to retain representation is completely up to each participant. Many couples try mediation first and decide later if they want representation. An attorney can be hired at any time before, during, or after mediation.
How much does mediation cost?
The average cost for a mediated divorce is less than $3,000, depending on the complexity of the situation. Comparing this with a situation where both parties hire attorneys, some attorneys will require $2,000 simply for a retainer for one party. When one party initiates the litigation process, the other typically will retain another attorney, incurring an additional set of attorney’s fees. Now consider that communication is now has to take place through attorneys instead of directly between parties costing money for each phone call and email. The costs rack up quickly! Mediation normally costs about one fourth of what you’d pay in a litigated divorce. For three sessions, and drafting the Memorandum of Agreement of your settlement the total cost would be approximately $2,000 – $3,000. Mediation fees are generally shared by the parties, so that would be approximately $1,500 each. The savings are split by you and your spouse, not the attorneys.
Fees for neutral experts (such as appraisers) are paid by the couple directly to the expert.
Once you have finished mediation, you will need legal documents drafted, signed by each of you and filed with the court. For parties who are unrepresented, drafting can be done by an attorney of your choice. Those costs might add approximately $1,500 to $2,500 to the total divorce costs. We will discuss what options are available and may be best for your situation.
Who will succeed in mediation?
We believe all couples have the potential to be successful at achieving a mediated divorce settlement. We believe that all couples can achieve a more productive and fair process of resolution of their conflicts using a client-centered framework, which concentrates on assisting all people involved in achieving the best possible outcome through a cooperative approach.
How can it work if my spouse is so much more powerful?
There are power differences in all couples. It is our job as mediators to identify those power imbalances and work to make sure both parties are empowered so that a fair resolution can be achieved. Power is very hard to identify. Clients do not know their own power and how it affects the other. Power tends to move from one to the other depending on the issue. Each sees the other as powerful, while seeing themselves as having no power. Equal power is less the issue than how each uses their power. When power is used negatively, it is inherently destructive and the mediator intervenes to change the power to learn what motivates it.
Can I bring a friend or a support person to the mediation session?
Yes, if everyone agrees that it would be beneficial. If that person can help one of you make concrete decisions or assure that everyone feels safe, it would definitely benefit the settlement process. With that in mind, both sides must approve having any extra people in the room during a session.
How do I find out if mediation is right for me?
Divorcing couples can check out mediation with a consultation with the mediator. At the consultation, the mediator will get a sense of your case and answer your questions about divorce and the mediation process. In fact, divorcing couples are encouraged by the court to attempt mediation before engaging fully in the judicial process. Sometimes, one or both spouses are not ready to begin mediation. During the process, mediators may also find it useful to offer other resources that may be helpful to them when deciding what to do next.
How long will mediation take?
Each Mediation session is schedule for approximately two hours and it usually takes two to five sessions. Three sessions is an average for most divorces. The time it takes to finish mediation depends greatly on the complexity of your case, the level of conflict involved, and other factors. Clients who are cooperative, organized, and well prepared with their paperwork will typically require fewer sessions. During the initial consultation, after getting a basic understanding of your case, the mediator can discuss areas that will affect the length of time and how to reduce the impact of those areas on the length of your mediation.