You and your spouse come in and together we work out the issues that have to be resolved for you to separate/divorce.
Yes, we cover all the issues including: parenting time with children; child support; spousal support if appropriate; and distribution of assets and debts.
The average couple participates in two to five sessions of two hours each, (about one day or less in court). The current rate is $420.00 an hour for most cases. You also pay for the time spent drafting the agreement after each session. The TOTAL cost for most couples is less than what one of you would pay as a retainer for an attorney.
Typically we focus on child related issues since those are most important to parents and set the right tone. This includes when the child(ren) will be with each parent, how they’ll be supported, where they’ll live, how they’ll spend holidays and other issues. After that, you’ll be guided on what issues to discuss and when.
I’ve been helping people divorce for over 30 years. I have no problem working with challenging cases and people. In New Jersey, about 98% of all divorce cases settle. Approximately 95% of our clients reach agreement on all or most of the issues. In rare instances your case may need to be mediated with attorneys present who represent each of you.
I’ll discuss this with you during the free phone consultation and refer you to an attorney if you don’t need our services. For most people who have things worked out, we meet once or twice, review the terms, cover any missed areas and put the agreement in a written form acceptable for the court.
If you can convince your spouse to call me, he/she will probably feel comfortable coming in. I really like people and love what I do. This comes across on the phone and most people are willing to give mediation a try. Also, you can offer to pay for the first hour. If you spouse is not comfortable, he/she can leave after that. (No one does.) If your spouse is really resistant, we can refer you to an attorney to write a letter suggesting mediation.
I practiced law for 17 years before converting to mediation. I get more information more quickly in mediation than I ever did in litigation. There’s no lawyer to hide behind and block reasonable requests and I’ll terminate mediation if documents aren’t forthcoming. This rarely happens.
In collaborative law each spouse retains an attorney and the attorneys try to settle the case. In mediation, although you may consult with an attorney at any time, they rarely attend the sessions. I’m collaboratively trained and I respect that process. I see it as an alternative to mediation if a case is particularly complex or one of the spouses needs to have an attorney by his/her side to get through it. The downside is it can be more expensive, take longer and require meetings with child custody experts/therapists, financial experts and other professionals.
In mediation, the mediator helps you reach an agreement. In arbitration, the arbitrator makes the decision. If you mediate your case and most of the issues are resolved, I’ll sometimes “make the call” on a remaining issue or two if you want me to. If it’s complex, I’ll refer you a qualified arbitrator. This is very rare. Arbitration is a more formal process and although arbitrators deviate from court rules, they often follow them. It typically involves more paperwork and attorney presence and that means time and money.
Yes, you can come to mediation at any time. I handle many cases where the parties are tired of litigation, have run out of money, want to stop fighting, or realize it’s better for their children if they resolve things.
Yes, we often mediate issues when people are divorced and issues arise.