The Law Office of Douglas T. Barall


What is Divorce Mediation?

The goal of mediation is to resolve differences in a fair and amicable way.  Divorce mediation builds on the positive aspects of a couple's relationship. Mediation guides a couple through negotiations things such as

  • Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities)
  • Child Custody and Parenting Time
  • Child Support/Maintenance
  • Retirement
  • Taxes

Mediation is a neutral and nonjudgmental approach makes possible a successful resolution by balancing the needs of both people and negotiating compromises, mediators help couples resolve conflicts. Mediation can be an efficient and cost-effective path to a resolution that benefits everyone involved, especially children. Attorney Barall will work with you to help you resolve your divorce on terms that are fair to you.

In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible.

Constructive communication is a tactic used by mediators that will enable relationships to stay amicable in the future after learning the basis of how to communicate constructively. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. It is the mediators job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand, trying not to get them off track.


Mediation for Divorcing Couples with Children

Mediation is flexible and gives you and your spouse a way to settle the conflict between you in a way that helps you to work together as parents. This is extremely important if you have children and must interact with your ex-spouse after you are divorced. Mediation brings about communication between the couple, which can then be used when they must discuss issues in pertaining to the children. Mediation has the ability to help the couple learn to communicate again, if only for the sake of the children, and make their post-divorce relationship better than their married one.

A divorce mediator is neutral and doesn't "work" for either parent. That means the mediator can not give advice to either party. They must remain neutral no matter what the situation. What the mediator can do, though, is assist the divorcing couple in formulating ideas that can eventually lead to agreements that will stand the test of time. That open and free exchange of information frees up both spouses to negotiate with each other in confidence. Because both spouses are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to both spouses.


Some Mediation Advantages

  • Mediation is a private matter and personal and financial histories are not released to the public.
  • Mediation is voluntary- Clients may stop at any time—in the midst of a session or at any time during the process without penalty.
  • Mediation is less emotionally painful than is a legal battle. The emotional divorce as well as the legal divorce are both taken into account.
  • During all mediation sessions, both members of the couple are present. They can communicate directly and reach agreements more quickly.
  • Each person gets to decide what is in his/her own best interests.
  • Mediation is flexible and tailored to meet each family's individual needs.



Divorce Mediation Myths

Debunking divorce mediation myths: Facts about the mediation process.

Myth: Mediation allows one spouse to dominate another.

Fact: A good mediator pays close attention to the power balance between the spouses and uses specific techniques to address any imbalance. If one spouse persists in dominating behavior, the mediator will call a stop to the mediation rather than allowing it to continue.

Myth: Women are at a disadvantage in mediation.

Fact: Women are no more at a disadvantage in mediation than in divorce court. In fact, women can often obtain a better result in mediation than they can in court, because the mediation process allows separating spouses to negotiate an agreement that considers nonlegal factors. Also, except for court-ordered (mandatory) mediation, a woman is free to stop the mediation or refuse to sign an agreement that seems unfair to her.

Myth: Mediation is more of a hassle than hiring a lawyer to handle the divorce.

Fact: Whether divorcing spouses mediate or hire a lawyer to handle the divorce, they have to do a certain amount of gathering information and making decisions. Mediation offers a streamlined approach to the information-gathering and decision-making processes. In contrast, using the courts is cumbersome and expensive.

Myth: Mediation makes the divorce take longer.

Fact: Mediation almost always takes less time than litigating a divorce. Unless the spouses have worked everything out ahead of time, hiring lawyers to handle the divorce will almost always take as long, or longer, than mediating, even if the lawyers are able to settle out of court.

Myth: There's no place for lawyers in mediation.

Fact: Lawyers who understand and support mediation can help mediating spouses in several ways: by informing them of their legal rights and options, by coaching them through the negotiations, by coming up with creative settlement ideas, and by preparing the necessary divorce paperwork once an agreement is signed.

Myth: All divorce lawyers understand and support mediation.

Fact: Divorce mediation is still a relatively new way of approaching divorce. Some lawyers disapprove of mediation, arguing that divorcing spouses should not negotiate on their own but only through lawyers. These attitudes are slowly changing, as divorce lawyers become more aware of mediation and its benefits for their clients.

Myth: In mediation, the mediator decides what's fair.

Fact: Unlike a judge or an arbitrator a mediator has no power to make decisions for the divorcing spouses. The mediator's job is to help the spouses negotiate an agreement that each of them considers fair enough to accept.

Myth: Mediation is always the best option for every divorcing couple.

Fact: Mediation works for most divorcing couples. As long as both spouses are able to speak up for what's important to them and can behave themselves appropriately in mediation, the process can work for them. Couples with domestic violence or substance abuse issues may need to have lawyers speak for them instead of trying to negotiate directly.


Excerpt taken from:  Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce, by Katherine E. Stoner.



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