What Does a Family Mediator Do?

A family law mediator is a neutral, impartial third party trained to help couples resolve disputes. A mediator helps facilitate agreements about property division, parenting schedules, child support, alimony, and any other matter that is relevant to a couple’s individual case.

How Does Mediation Work?

The mediator helps the parties communicate what is important to them and what the couple seeks to resolve. With the assistance of the mediator, the parties will identify and prioritize issues, discuss possible solutions, and come to agreement about parenting and financial matters. When an agreement has been reached on all issues, the mediator drafts the agreement for review by each of the parties and their attorneys, if any. This includes reviewing and revising the agreement for any agreed upon changes and drafting a final version of the agreement for the parties’ signatures.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

The complexity of the issues and ability of the individuals to be flexible as they negotiate a fair agreement determines the length of the mediation. Mediations can be concluded in one day or can take place over a period of several weeks. The average case usually involves at least two to three two-hour mediation sessions to resolve the issues and to review the agreement.

How much does Mediation Cost?

Mediation is significantly less expensive than the traditional approach of resolving disputes in court with each side represented by their own attorney. Usually the entire Mediation process can be concluded at a cost that is less than the retainer fee for one attorney. Most Mediators charge an hourly rate, and many have a minimum fee for a two-hour session.

Is Mediation Confidential?

Communications in the Mediation process are confidential unless they involve elder abuse, child abuse or a plan to commit a crime. The Mediation confidentiality not only covers the communications that occur at the mediation but also keeps financial information out of the public record.

How do Court Documents Get Filed?

If the parties are representing themselves, the mediator can explain to the parties how to file the necessary paperwork. Some mediators will assist the parties in preparing the required pleadings and documents in addition to the agreement, including but not limited to the dissolution of marriage petition, the answer or waiver of an answer, the necessary disclosure documents, and the agreement reached by the parties.

What are the Advantages of Mediation?

Mediation leaves the decision making authority in the hands of the parties’ instead of in the hands of a stranger in a courtroom. It is a much less expensive option and not only saves the parties money but also proves to be less emotionally taxing. Mediation is a much faster process than litigation and mediated settlements statistically result in results with higher levels of long-term compliance.