At Applied Divorce Solutions, we take great pride in providing you with the expertise and resources necessary to make informed financial decisions for yourself and your family.
Here are 14 frequently asked questions regarding mediation and my practice.
Don’t see the answers you’re looking for? Contact Donna Smalldon today.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process by which two parties agree to settle their differences outside of a courtroom atmosphere. During mediation, both parties are able to work out their conflict in an amiable, thoughtful manner. The informal nature of the process enables parties to be themselves and to express their individual needs.
The mediation process involves a series of meetings with an impartial third party – the mediator – who helps them arrive at an amenable resolution.
Upon completion of the mediation process, the settlement is submitted to a court for a final review. Since the case itself is not heard in a public court, all financial and other matters do not become part of the public record. Privacy and individualized attention are two distinctive advantages of the mediation process.
What Does a Financial Divorce Mediator Do?
A financial divorce mediator is an impartial third party whose role is to help parties resolve financial and family conflicts while providing a comprehensive financial assessment and plan for the short-term and long-term.
During the mediation process, parties may meet with their mediator separately or together. Ultimately, it is the role of a mediator to help parties arrive at a compromise without expressing any preference or bias towards either side.
What is the Mediation Process?
Mediation is an informal process whereby any sort of civil dispute can be resolved with the oversight and guidance of an impartial third party (e.g. financial divorce mediator).
This option is a popular alternative to divorce because it allows both parties to proactively transition without the added stress, costs, and legalities.
The process begins with parties agreeing to settle their differences outside of the courtroom. They provide the mediator with their financial information and then begin a series of informal, guided discussions. During these discussions, the mediator's role is to remain objective and help both sides find a mutually agreeable resolution to their conflict.
During the process, the mediator will compile a comprehensive report that details the finances, property holdings, and tax projections of both parties. Then, the mediator will use the information to accurately assess and plan for their futures (and the future of their children, if applicable).
Once the involved parties have arrived upon an amenable Marital Settlement, it will be submitted to the court for final approval. Though the court assesses the settlement, no personal information shared during the mediation process, such as financial records or other private details, will be filed in any public record.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
There are many benefits to using mediation to settle a divorce or other civil conflict.
During a divorce, parties can meet in an informal setting and discuss their differences in a safe and impartial environment. This helps ease the pain of the transition.
Since the discussions take place outside of the courtroom, they can proceed at a natural pace and can take as little or as much time as is needed. The goal of mediation is to resolve conflicts, no matter how long it takes.
The ability to discuss matters enables both sides to have their full say and to have a real impact on the outcome. The mediator ensures that the final agreement is both equitable and enforceable under the law.
Mediation is optimal for contested divorces, where emotions run high and time is needed to sort through a complex financial picture. In addition to smoothening out financial discussions, a divorce mediator can provide impartial assistance to matters related to child custody, future parental responsibilities, and visitation issues.
Even uncontested divorces can benefit from a mediator in that the marital assets do not become a matter of public record. Furthermore, these cases can be quickly resolved without having to rely on the court's timetable.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is easier to budget for a mediated divorce since it costs less than courtroom litigation. There are no additional court fees, hidden add-ons, and a mediator's hourly rate is less than that of an attorney.
Are Mediations Confidential?
Yes. Mediations are held in absolute confidence. In fact, participants are afforded a layer of privacy not available to litigated divorces, in that their personal information is not entered into the public record, as necessarily happens in a court case.
If there are any personal issues that parties wish to remain private, mediation ensures that the divorce will not expose them to public scrutiny. Also, parties can speak freely without a court stenographer recording every word.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation?
No. Both parties may retain lawyers, but that is not necessary. If both parties are willing and capable of doing so, their legal and financial matters can be resolved without legal counsel.
Should I Still Hire an Attorney for Mediation?
Yes. Legal representation is recommended so that parties have their best, legal interests represented in the final document. When the final Marital Settlement is reached, both parties will benefit from having attorneys review this document.
You may consult other professionals such as accountants and mental health professionals to help strengthen your position or receive additional expert opinions.
Can Mediation Work if My Spouse is Very Powerful?
Absolutely. The mediation process is designed to level the playing field and assure that both sides have equal say in the outcome. All parties are encouraged to hire their own representation, which will bring balance to discussions that may have been one-sided in the past.
Can Mediation Work if My Spouse and I Don’t Get Along?
Yes. Mediation is recommended particularly for divorcing couples that are quick to quarrel.
Through the mediation process, many couples let old resentments, wounds heal, and settle their differences on their own terms and at their own pace.
This works because the mediator represents a voice of objectivity and impartiality. When couples stop attacking one another and start working to resolve the practical matters of a divorce, a mutually-beneficial agreement can be reached.
Do We Still Need to Appear in Court?
No. You will not need to appear in court once the mediation process commences.
Is Mediation Less Expensive Than Going to Court?
In general, mediation is less expensive. The mediator's fee is set up front and if you only use an attorney to review your Marital Agreement, the costs end up being far less than a litigated case. Each case is unique, however, but the overall benefits make mediation a clear choice.
Is Mediation Less Expensive Than Hiring a Lawyer?
Yes. Mediators charge by the hour at a rate that is generally far below that of an attorney. With a mediator, parties are still guaranteed a legally binding divorce that ensures the best outcome for the whole family.
Are All Divorce Mediators the Same?
No. Each mediator is an individual and has his or her own particular strengths to offer.
Conduct as much research of your mediator as possible. Donna Smalldon, founder and owner of Applied Divorce Solutions, is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) with over thirty years of experience in navigating couples and families through the financial realm of the divorce process.
Is Divorce Mediation Right for Me?
Yes. Mediation offers a low-cost, private proceeding that ensures that the all parties have arrived to a martial resolution at their own terms, at their own pace.
Applied Divorce Solutions works closely with her clients to enable them to make important financial decisions and respectfully and peacefully navigate through the divorce process.