DJS Mediation Services

Family and Business Mediation

4/23/2014 5:47:00 PM
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Divorce & Separation FAQ

Couples considering mediation during separation or divorce frequently ask questions such as these:
• We can't talk to one another - How can we mediate?
If you are willing to try to communicate with one another, then it is advisable to try mediation. Professional training helps your mediator build agreements and in the process, you may learn to communicate differently with one another.

It is our job to get you talking. Sometimes being in the room together is too difficult, and separate sessions can be scheduled, either at different times or at the same time, but in separate rooms. This offers you the benefits of mediation without the stress of staying together in the same room.
• WHO can mediate?
All couples who are divorcing, splitting up (if not married), preparing to marry or are dealing with custody or post-judgment issues, are good candidates for mediation provided:
  • Both spouses or parents wish to resolve their issues in good faith, and both will try for a resolution.
  • Both spouses agree to be honest about their financial situations and intentions regarding children. Both spouses make a full financial disclosure to each other during a divorce, and we will help negotiate the terms.
  • There have been no felony charges, especially related to domestic violence; when domestic violence charges of a misdemeanor nature exist, but both parties agree to meet, we may be able to mediate. IF this is your situation, please let us know.
  • • How long are the sessions?
    Generally, mediation sessions are scheduled to last 1½ to 2 hours, depending on the couple’s needs and available time. Some couples prefer longer sessions while others find that shorter sessions are more productive.
    • How often will we meet with the mediator?
    At the initial mediation session you will identify the issues that need to be discussed in order to separate or divorce. What these issues are, how urgent the decisions are and how quickly you wish to proceed will determine your schedule with the mediator.
    • What information do I need to disclose?
    All financial information must be disclosed as part of the mediation process. The mediator will work with you to determine your budget based on your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, retirement funds and other financial information required as part of a legal divorce. Should information be withheld during the mediation process, any agreement reached may not be valid.
    • What do we talk about during mediation?
    In typical divorce mediation, the following issues must be addressed in order to generate an agreement that can be submitted to the court: Children; Parenting responsibility and time; Living arrangements; Legal and physical custody; Insurance; Education; Support. Other issues include: Assets and Debts: How these will be apportioned; Property: Marital Home, Cars or other personal property; Spousal Support: Whether there will be spousal support, if so, in what amount and for how long; Insurance and Medical Expenses; Tax Issues.
    • Do mediators take part in the court process?
    The short answer is “No.” We do not represent you in court and cannot give you legal advice. Our role is to provide you with a forum so that you can make your own decision about what is best for you and your family. You may consult with or hire your own attorney so you can have the benefit of both legal information and legal advice as it pertains to your individual circumstances. If you wish to have an attorney represent you, you are welcome to have your attorney participate in the mediation process as long as this has been agreed upon, in writing before the mediation session.

    Furthermore, we will not testify for you in court. The mediation process is strictly confidential between the mediators and the parties. If you wish to involve any other professionals in the mediation process by mutual agreement, those sessions will be confidential as well. We want you to feel free to discuss your concerns with us without fear that some day we will be repeating those concerns in front of a judge.
    • How does the process differ through Court Litigation OR Divorce Mediation?
    During Mediation, YOU can expect to:
  • Help outline the issues which apply to your case, and set the dates
  • Address anything that is bothering either party and your agreement can clarify areas that often lead standard agreement holders to argue long after their final settlement
  • Control the COST; Mediation can be as little as 1/3 the cost of a typical litigated divorce cases [2006 Dallas, TX averages were approximately $6,000 for divorces using mediation vs $20,000 for litigated cases]
  • Decide the outcome; because of this, participants uphold agreements made in mediation more often than those negotiated in the courthouse or at divorce trials
  • Be allowed to ask the courts to assist if mediation doesn't work out an issue and still sign the rest of the agreement for your benefit. This helps speed resolution and avoid court related delays.
  • Be healthier for your and your family, since part of mediation is learning to communicate better, the goal is to lower physical and emotional stress
  • Some of the aspects of Divorce Litigation which are directly responsible for the rising popularity of mediation include:
  • Unpredictable Outcomes: Financial Costs, Length of Time for Settlement, Results
  • Lack of Power: Time with your judge and/or professionals may be limited, NOT confidential- all court records are public
  • Low Creativity and Impersonal Decisions regarding your Parenting Issues
  • Length of Process: Scheduling Conflicts within the court system & with attorneys can cause unnecessary delays and frustration, Posturing and avoidance can extend settlement stage and adds stress
  • The adversarial nature of the court system encourages competition between the participants, which is not conducive to a healthy family life after divorce
  • • Is a Mediation Agreement binding?
    In short, “YES.” If you are involved in a divorce or another family issue that is filed in court, any agreement you reach may be filed with the court. The court generally reviews all agreements, including those reached in mediation, to assure that they conform to the legal standards, such as child support guidelines and, where the agreement does not conform, what, if any, special circumstances exist.

    If your dispute is not filed in court, the agreement is usually considered to be a contract. Depending on the nature of the agreement and the dispute, if there is a breach of the contract, you might be able to file a claim with the court at a later date.
    If you would like to read more about collaborative divorce, please refer to our list of articles on collaborative and mediated divorce on this site.
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