What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process in which people work together with a trained mediator to negotiate and attempt to resolve their differences. Neither party is “right” or “wrong”, or a “winner” or “loser”. While each party may come away somewhat unhappy, if the parties are able to avoid the time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining matrimonial or family litigation, they will both have succeeded. The role of the mediator is to help the parties work together towards that common goal.
For many divorcing spouses and separating parents, mediation is an alternative to costly and draining litigation. Between willing and cooperative parties, mediation provides an alternative to explore fair and equitable solutions while avoiding the sharp divide often resulting from adversarial litigation. In mediation, the parties can agree upon creative solutions that might not be available to them in litigation.
In mediation, the parties make decisions through direct discussion with an impartial mediator helping clarify positions and explaining perspectives of each side. An effective mediator will also help the parties gather and exchange information necessary to make informed decisions, including financial disclosure and explain the relevant law.
The mediator has no interest in the outcome and is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable process. When parties are in the process of separating, they need to make important decisions about many things, including future parenting arrangements and child support, and if the parties are married, they must also address the distribution of assets and liabilities, spousal maintenance and other issues as well. After the parties have resolved their issues, our attorneys will draft a detailed agreement memorializing the terms and conditions. Once it is fully signed, that agreement becomes a legally binding contract and will eventually be filed with the Court to become a court order or incorporated into the judgment of divorce.
Mediation can also take place after the parties have separated and/or divorced to address any such issues including modification of custody/access, and modification of support.
The Lawyer’s Role in Mediation
Mediation does not mean that you proceed without the benefit of counsel. Although you may not have a lawyer sitting with you during the mediation sessions, you should still have a lawyer to advise you as to your rights before and after sessions, and certainly before you enter into a final settlement. A “consulting attorney” works with a party throughout the mediation process whereas a “review attorney” reviews any final documents before they are signed. Either way, a lawyer should review the final document to confirm that it accurately states the terms and conditions of your agreement BEFORE you sign it.
Mr. Grossman brings more than twenty (20) years of experience as a matrimonial and family law attorney to his mediation practice, having completed both the basic mediation training and the advanced mediation training for matrimonial matters. He added this service to provide clients with an alternative to litigation with the hope that he can help parties resolve their differences more efficiently and as amicably as possible.