• Allison Roberts

Divorce: The 3 Ways to Utilize Mediation



So you have chosen mediation because you have made the wise choice to avoid the courts and you are committed to reaching a resolution in your divorce. The next decision is to decide which variation of mediation will work best for you. There are different ways mediation is utilized: mediation without attorneys, mediation with an attorney, and mediation after a Complaint has been filed.


Mediation Without Attorneys

You and your spouse can select a mediator and attend mediation pro se, or without legal representation. The mediator can draft the document that becomes the binding terms at the point after two situations have occurred: when all issues are addressed and only after a global settlement has been reached.


Keep in mind, you will be encouraged to review the substance of any settlement reached in mediation with an individual attorney.


A practical tip: when you call to interview a potential mediator, be sure to indicate you are looking to hire an attorney as a mediator because ethically, once the attorney starts to gather information specific to you, it could create a conflict.


Mediation With an Attorney


It is important to have any agreement reviewed by an attorney who represents you and can give you individual legal advice— many times it works better to have an attorney involved and attend mediation with you. This is my preferred method. Although I often hear that the expense of paying an attorney and a mediator does not make sense and does not keep the cost of divorce reasonable, the opposite tends to be the outcome.


If the attorneys involved believe in the process, and most do, they will help you make your decisions efficiently, can help you focus on what is realistic when the mediator cannot give you her opinion, tell you what is likely or what commonly occurs in court, and when an agreement is ultimately drafted, there will be less time needed at the end to get that agreement reviewed, signed and filed with the court to make it official.


Mediation After a Complaint for Divorce Has Been Filed


There are times when it may be important or necessary to file a Complaint for Divorce. In such a situation, consult with an attorney to see if that makes sense for you. If this is necessary, doing so does not prevent you from attending mediation. In fact, you will be required to attend mediation with your attorney in what is called the post-ESP (Early Settlement Panel) mediation program.


You will have the opportunity to utilize a court-approved mediator for two free hours to help you reach a settlement. Many times, if it is helping narrow the issues, parties will decide to continue in mediation after the first two free hours. I find many of my cases will settle at this point in the process. With a mediator, you get their full time and attention, unlike in a trial-based divorce where court scheduling is a significant factor.


Mediation Gives Everyone the Freedom to be Creative


Mediation gives the parties and the attorneys the freedom to be creative. Particularly when children or multiple properties are involved, there is hardly a case that won’t benefit from mediation at some point. For more information or to schedule a complimentary first consultation via phone, contact us at 908-237-3098 or send an email to info@amrlawyers.com.


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