Divorce Mediation: An Alternative to High-Cost Litigation

QuestionMy husband and I are discussing divorce, but we are both afraid that once we get involved in the legal system, it will be very costly and we will lose control of the process. Do you think that mediation would work for us?

AnswerWe asked Genell Greenberg, MSW, who is an experienced divorce mediator and family law attorney in North County, to provide the following information about mediation:

Divorce mediation is an alternative to the contested, adversarial divorce traditionally litigated in court. It is a confidential, voluntary process in which one or two trained professionals, acting as facilitators, help a couple to negotiate the terms of their divorce.

The mediator assists the parties in gathering and exchanging information, analyzing the issues, suggesting the possible range of results if the matter was litigated, and exploring and fashioning a resolution which is mutually satisfactory.

Once the parties reach an agreement, the mediator prepares a written document setting forth the proposed agreement.

The parties to a mediation must make a commitment to fully disclose all pertinent financial information, and they must trust each other enough to communicate and negotiate in good faith. The parties are encouraged to consult with independent legal counsel at any time throughout the course of the negotiations and at the end to review the final proposed agreement.

Generally, no court appearances are required, and the mediated agreement becomes part of the final judgment of dissolution.

The cost of mediation varies from case to case. Some mediators will request an initial retainer and some will expect payment at the time of each mediation session. You and your spouse should confirm the fee arrangements with the mediator at the initial session.

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