A mediator is a completely neutral third-party expert who assists the parties in coming to their own resolution to a dispute. An effective mediator will have experience both with the process of mediation itself as well as with the specific issues involved in your case.
Why would you choose to use mediation when you could instead use the traditional litigation process for your divorce? There are numerous advantages of mediation over court, and not all of them are obvious at first glance:
(1) Mediation is quicker. Court dates are often postponed or could be inconvenient for the parties involved. In mediation, you get to schedule the time the mediation session occurs, and the process can move much faster than a traditional litigated divorce. At Divorce Strategies Group our mediation process is usually complete within 60-70 days.
(2) In court the judge’s decision is binding. Contrasting, in mediation, you have a say in the outcome and nothing gets decided without your consent. At the end of mediation if an agreement is reached, a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) can be signed which is binding upon the parties. Each party agrees to the conditions and signs voluntarily.
(3) Mediation is typically much cheaper than court. At DSG we charge a flat fee for mediation services and the attorneys we coordinate with typically charge lower rates than they would with traditional litigation. While each party will have competent counsel at DSG in our mediation process, the overall time required by the attorneys in our mediation process is less and therefore the fees are typically less.
(4) Court involves “discovery” procedures where each party forces the other to make information available in advance of the court hearing. Mediation can involve more reasonable and limited information sharing. At DSG, unless otherwise requested, we only ask for what is in the estate currently. In contrast, in litigation often years of statements are requested and then must be reviewed, which takes time and costs money.
(5) You can research potential mediators and select one who has a specific skillset and style that appeals to you. Some mediators are facilitators while others will suggest solutions.
(6) Since the other side has agreed to mediate with you and helps create the settlement, they are more likely to comply with the agreed settlement terms after mediation.
(7) Parents can draft agreements which work for their children instead of following the traditional, cookie-cutter plans of the court system. In our mediation process at DSG, each party discusses their needs and wishes for the children with a family law attorney who then helps the parties craft agreements which both follow the law and fit the family’s needs.
What are the next steps? Schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation with Divorce Strategies Group to discuss mediation and what options in general may be best for your family.