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MEDIATION

At WhitbeckBennett our philosophy is every family is diverse and unique.  Your divorce is no different.  It’s important to know always have the option to use mediation to settle your divorce.  Why go through long, stressful, and expensive litigation when you and your spouse and collaborate peacefully to get the case done?  Mediation is the best way to ensure a faster and less-expensive resolution to your divorce. 

We can mediate your divorce case for you from start to finish, as well as custody and visitation cases, spousal support cases, child support cases, and any other family law matter you need assistance settling. 

The Benefits of Mediation

  • Less stress compared to litigation. Court hearings are scary and stressful.  Mediation resolves your divorce in the relative comfort of an office setting.
  • Control of your own settlement. In divorce litigation, a judge you have never met decides your case and therefore your family’s future.  With mediation, you get to determine your own outcome.
  • Faster resolution of your case. Courts move slowly.  Mediation moves at your own pace and can finalize a case faster than a court can in most instances. 
  • Less expense by far. When you settle a case in mediation you save the extreme costs of litigation. 
  • Confidentiality of your situation. By law mediation discussions cannot be used against you in court and mediation is not public record like a court hearing would be. 
  • Cooperation between spouses can lead to better future dealings between you and your ex-spouse and lessen the impact your divorce will have on your children.

The Mediation Process

Our firm starts the mediation process with a short phone call with each spouse separately to explain how mediation will proceed, answer any questions they may have and discuss the costs of mediation.  After both spouses agree to proceed with mediation, we will forward you a mediation agreement for signature and schedule the first mediation session.

Prior to the mediation session, our mediator will send out a list of documents to bring to mediation so that everyone is fully aware of all the issues that need to be discussed.  Our mediator will also identify issues unique to your divorce/family law case and advise you on what documents you need to bring on issues such as custody, visitation, support, and division of property.

Mediation is generally conducted over multiple sessions, the frequency and amount of which is dependent on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to share information and compromise on their respective positions.

During each session, the mediator will help you reach agreements on all issues in your divorce and then draft the settlement agreement for you based on the agreements you reach.  While it is preferable to settle all issues in mediation if there are any issues that cannot be settled the mediator can also reserve those issues for the court to decide while settling the remaining issues for you. 

Generally, the following issues will be addressed in mediation:

  • Grounds for divorce
  • Division of property both assets and debts
  • Custody and visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Any other issues unique to your family

Once the mediation is complete and an agreement is executed, the mediator will refer you to local attorneys who can help formally finalize the divorce. 

 

Types of Mediation

Facilitative mediation is where the mediator helps facilitate the parties reaching an agreement without advising the parties on possible outcomes were the case to proceed to court.  While mediators can’t give the parties legal advice, they can make suggestions on how to structure settlements to the benefit of both parties without going into what a judge would do in their particular situation.

Evaluative mediation is only used if the parties specifically request it and if facilitative mediation looks to be unsuccessful.  In evaluative mediation, our mediator uses his/her experience to advise the parties on the possible outcome of each issue if the case were to be decided by the judge.  This is particularly effective when the parties are at an impasse over a particular issue.

Hybrid mediation is a combination of both facilitative and evaluative mediation.  In hybrid mediation, our mediator will try to facilitate an agreement on a particular issue and if the parties can’t settle it, then the mediator will weigh in with an opinion on what the court may do if the issue is decided by a judge. 

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