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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Mediation

Mediation is not the most commonly known solution to disputes during divorce. Most couples lack the knowledge to make an informed decision about Mediation. To help you better understand the Mediation process, Dr. Glass has provided her top 25 frequently asked questions below.

1. 

What Is Divorce Mediation?

2. 

Why Choose Mediation?

3. 

How Does Mediation Benefit Children?

4. 

Who Is Mediation For?

5. 

Does Mediation Work?

6. 

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

7. 

How Long Does Mediation Take?

8. 

What Does A Mediator Do And How Does A Mediator Stay Neutral And Avoid Taking Sides?

9. 

How Is A Mediated Divorce Different From The Usual Litigated Divorce?

10. 

Do We Need An Attorney?

11. 

What If I Already Have An Attorney?

12. 

Are There Cases That Shouldn't Be Mediated?

13. 

What Are The Steps In Divorce Mediation?

14. 

Do We Need To Work Things Out Before We Make An Appointment For Mediation?

15. 

Is Mediation Binding?

16. 

Can Mediation Help Even Between Couples That Are Bent On Being Vindictive And Uncooperative?

17. 

What Preparation Is Needed For The First Meeting?

18. 

How Do I Get Started?

19. 

What Is The Difference Between Court-ordered Mediation And Private Mediation?

20. 

What Is The Difference Between Mediation And Arbitration?

21. 

Do We Both Have To Participate?

22. 

What If We Cannot Work It Out In Mediation?

23. 

Can Mediation Help Us Get Back Together?

24. 

What If We've Never Been Married?

25. 

Do I Have To File For Divorce Before Entering Mediation?

1. 

What Is Mediation?

 

Mediation is a cooperative settlement process designed to avoid the stress, time and cost of a legal battle. In Mediation, an impartial professional helps people negotiate directly with each other, ease their conflicts, and work out their own mutually acceptable agreements in a confidential setting. The mediator assists the participants in negotiating but doesn't make any decisions for them. The mediator helps participants focus on how to find a solution that will best satisfy each of their individual needs, interests, values and goals.

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2. 

Why Choose Mediation?

 

Choosing Mediation is choosing to take charge of your life at a point where lots of things seem to be spinning out of control. In the case of Divorce Mediation, it is choosing to set a direction and deciding to close the door of the marriage gently rather than slam it shut! Mediation avoids much of the damaging consequences of adversarial divorces. Most complex disputes can go on for years. Prolonged disputes deplete assets, entail expensive professional services, appraisals and legal fees, interrupt business, and interfere with parties' opportunities for personal growth and their desire to move on with their lives.

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3. 

How Does Mediation Benefit Children?

 

Because you make the decisions together, you avoid a lengthy legal battle that can end in feeling like enemies. Your children benefit from reduced conflict promoted through Mediation. Your cooperation with each other is the most important factor in your children's adjustment to the divorce. A mediated parenting plan is tailored to your family's needs and can help you to be more effective parents after the divorce. Instead of lasting a year or more, you can conclude your divorce much faster, through Mediation.

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4. 

Who Is Divorce Mediation For?

  Mediation is for:
• Couples who have made a decision to divorce.
• Couples who may not have decided about a divorce, but who want a separation.
• Couples who are already divorced and are seeking change to their existing agreements regarding child support, child visitation, or spousal support.
• Couples who want to make decisions for themselves rather than turn the decisions over to the courts.
• Couples who want to save time and money.
• Mediation is not only for couples with a high level of agreement; Mediation is a process designed to help any couple regardless of existing differences or conflicts.
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5. 

Does Mediation Work?

 

Agreements reached through Mediation have a better chance of lasting because the parties involved arrive at the agreements together. Parties who have used Mediation tend to return to Mediation to resolve future problems, instead of going to court. The costs are significantly less with litigation. Mediation can help you avoid a destructive legal battle that will leave you in debt. If an agreement is not reached in Mediation, the parties are free to pursue existing court remedies.

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6. 

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

 

The amount of time or number of sessions needed to gather information and negotiate an agreement will vary from situation to situation, so the cost of the Mediation will also vary. Mediation, however, will always be much less costly than adversarial litigation. Mediation fees are usually shared by both parties in a way that the parties agree is fair.

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7. 

How Long Does Mediation Take?

 

Mediation almost always takes less time than litigation. Most involved parties meet for several sessions over a period of weeks. The total number of sessions required to come to an agreement varies depending upon the complexity of the issues involved and the readiness of the parties to reach a fair agreement. The average Mediation involves four to six sessions. Mediation is time-limited and, unlike the court process, it does not drag on indefinitely.

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8. 

What Does A Mediator Do And How Does A Mediator Stay Neutral And Avoid Taking Sides?

 

Because the mediator won't be making decisions for the parties, she doesn't need to decide who's right or wrong. Not only that, it is the mediator's job to help the parties come up with an agreement that is acceptable to both, so the mediator makes a point of looking at the issues from all sides. Mediators who have been professionally trained have learned techniques for doing this.

The mediator creates a safe and informal environment for your negotiations, and helps you communicate and express your feelings and concerns. The mediator helps you identify your concerns and address your issues in an orderly fashion.

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9. 

How Is A Mediated Divorce Different From The Usual Litigated Divorce?

 

With a mediated divorce, you and your spouse are in charge. With the help of the mediator, you do the negotiating, and you control the choices that affect your life and your family. You are able to conclude your divorce and move on with your life in much less time, at lower cost, and with less conflict and stress.

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10. 

Do We Need An Attorney?

 

Choosing Mediation does not mean that you give up your right to the services of an attorney. Although Mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice, approximately 90% of Mediating couples find it unnecessary to retain an independent attorney. Our team approach to Mediation means that a Mediating attorney is available to ask legal questions, process the court paperwork, and review the final Marital Settlement Agreement prepared for you by the mediator.

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11. 

What If I Already Have An Attorney?

 

That's not a problem. People frequently want to consult an attorney when considering legal action. If you have retained an attorney, you may continue to use their services in a different way, as advisor rather than adversary. They may still give you advice along the way, or review the final agreement document if you so choose. In Mediation, it's important that all parties be aware if one or more parties has retained an attorney so that others may consider their choice to do so as well.

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12. 

Are There Cases That Shouldn't Be Mediated?

 

Mediation works in many more situations than you might imagine. However, in situations where parties are unable to voice their needs or do not feel free to speak their mind without fear of violent or harmful consequences, Mediation may not be appropriate. Mediation is appropriate for both low conflict and high conflict cases. For some individuals, however, negotiating directly with each other, even with the help of a mediator, is not possible -- either because of problems in the relationship such as violence or substance abuse, or because one party is unwilling to mediate.

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13. 

What Are The Steps In Mediation?

 

First, all parties involved must agree to mediate. Next, make an appointment with an experienced Mediator. The mediator guides the process so that everyone has a chance to be heard and leads the discussions such that all areas of concern are covered. The mediator is trained to manage angry and competitive feelings so that individuals can more effectively plan for their future. Various solutions are explored so that the best possible agreement can be reached. Mediators may offer suggestions and help individuals develop options, but the final agreement is up to the parties involved. In the case of Legal Separation or Divorce, the Mediator's office can handle the filing of the petition for divorce and can draft the couple's agreement into a Marital Settlement Agreement for submission to the court. The couple need not appear in court.

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14. 

Do We Need To Work Things Out Before We Make An Appointment For Mediation?

 

No! Certainly if there already exists agreement in some areas, bring those in to the mediator for inclusion in the discussion. However, trying to work everything outside of Mediation, for the purposes of saving money, may in fact circumvent the benefits of Mediation itself. You may run the risk that unresolved marital issues, hurtful behavior, etc., may interfere with your ability to look at and respect each others needs, interests, and goals.

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15. 

Is Mediation Binding?

 

Mediation is the best of both worlds - its both binding and non-binding! It is non-binding in the sense that you will not be bound to any outcome until you sign the final documents. Mediation is a fluid process, meaning that until you have considered all the information and options, issues are still negotiable. If you begin the Mediation process and decide it is not for you, you can always return to the courts. In the case of Legal Separation or Divorce, once you have signed the marital settlement agreement, your mediated agreement is submitted to the courts and it becomes a binding contract.

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16. 

Can Mediation Help Even Between Couples That Are Bent On Being Vindictive And Uncooperative?

 

Since over 90 % of cases settle, the issue isn't whether it will settle but when, how, and at what cost. It would be unusual if you weren't angry! Legal actions are, unavoidably, a highly disruptive experience. Mediation is not just for people who are already cooperating. Mediation is often most helpful when you and others are having trouble talking on your own. The question is not how you feel now, but where you want to go. Do you want to end up in a court room battle, or do you want to get to make your own decisions about your interests and your future. Mediation facilitates cooperation rather than competition.

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17. 

What Preparation Is Needed For The First Meeting?

 

No special preparation is needed for the first session. During the course of Mediation the mediator may ask you to complete "homework" assignments, such as collecting financial information.

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18. 

How Do I Get Started?

 

Call (626) 792-4153 or email lydia_glass@msn.com to make an appointment.

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19. 

What Is The Difference Between Court-ordered Mediation And Private Mediation?

 

As its name implies, court-ordered Mediation is conducted under the direction of the court. It usually involves only child custody and visitation issues. Rarely are financial issues addressed in court-ordered Mediation. There is often no fee charged for court-ordered Mediation, whereas private mediators charge an hourly fee. The mediator in a court-sponsored program often makes a report to the court. Private Mediation is confidential.

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20. 

What Is The Difference Between Mediation And Arbitration?

 

Both Mediation and arbitration involve a neutral third party. In Mediation, the neutral party -- the mediator -- helps the parties involved to negotiate an agreement and has no power to make decisions. In arbitration, the neutral third party -- the arbitrator -- listens to the facts and then renders a (usually binding) decision for the parties.

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21. 

In Divorce Mediation, Do We All Have To Participate?

 

Yes. Mediation is a joint, cooperative problem solving process, it is necessary for both to participate.

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22. 

What If We Cannot Work It Out In Mediation?

 

The Mediation process may not resolve all issues but even partial agreements can help participants narrow the issues and limit the time and expense involved in going to court. You are free to return to the court process at any time.

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23. 

Can Mediation Help A Couple Get Back Together?

 

Mediation is not marriage counseling. However, Mediation typically helps reduce conflict and assists towards a more amicable and friendly future. On occasion couples decide to return to marital counseling to attempt reconciliation.

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24. 

What If We've Never Been Married?

 

Parents, couples or partners can use Mediation to discuss differences and resolve conflicts. It is an option for married couples planning to separate, married couples deciding to divorce or couples or partners who have never married.

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25. 

Do I Have To File For Legal Separation Before Entering Mediation?

 

No. If the decision is to divorce, our office can handle the filing of the petition to the court for you. If you have already filed the petition, or had an attorney file one for you, you may still enter into Mediation to arrive at the decisions related to division of property, parenting plan, and support.

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Other Questions?

If you have other questions or need more information regarding Mediation or professional help, please contact Lydia Glass at lydia_glass@msn.com.

Besides specializing in Divorce Mediation, Dr. Lydia Glass also runs her own private practice in Pasadena, California as a Clinical Psychologist and as a Marriage & Family Therapist. Dr. Glass has also been providing psychotherapy for over 25 years... (more)


 

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