Simply put: divorce is not a good time. Many divorce cases I see are quite contentious, so much so that it’s hard for both parties to make rational decisions regarding their divorce.
When I meet with a client seeking representation in a divorce, the first question I ask is, “Have you attended mediation yet?” Mediation is often the most successful tool for resolving issues and keeping you in control of your divorce. Allow me to explain why….
What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal process where parties meet with a neutral third person (the “mediator”) in a private, confidential setting to discuss and resolve disputes regarding the divorce (i.e. custody matters, child support, financial and property divisions, etc.). Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make decisions regarding your case, nor will they decide who is right or wrong. The main purpose of a mediator is encourage problem-solving, understanding and support for both parties so they can successfully reach an agreement outside the courtroom.
Why should I consider mediation?
Dealing with domestic issues during a divorce is very painful. Emotions run high and it can be almost impossible to find common ground without assistance. Mediation is a way to offer both parties an opportunity to work through their differences with a professional who is trained to help couples stay focused, be open-minded and plan for a mutually acceptable conclusion. Wouldn’t you rather decide your children’s future by working with their parent rather than leave it to a judge who doesn’t know you and doesn’t know your children?
Parties who mediate their own divorce settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute.
Does mediation replace my need for an attorney?
Not necessarily. Think about it this way: a mediator’s role is to assist both parties to reach agreeable conclusions in regards to the future. An attorney’s role is to help you navigate through the legal jungle of petitions, parental rights, court proceedings and more. Contracting both a mediator and an attorney will help you feel better informed and better prepared.
Am I required to go to mediation?
Mediation is mandatory in divorce and parenting cases involving children, with some notable exceptions. Mediation is voluntary in divorce cases without children. Mediation has proven to be far more successful resolving differences than in a heated courtroom. Courts don’t prefer to mandate rulings, particularly around those dealing with custody issues. It’s best to attempt a settlement that works for both parties rather than dealing with the stress and uncertainty of a judge’s decision.
In certain cases, mediation is not appropriate, nor will the court mandate it, if particular circumstances are present including, but not limited to, abuse or neglect of a minor child, undue hardship on one of the parties, a finding of alcoholism or drug abuse or allegations of serious psychological or emotional abuse.
What can a mediator share with the court?
Mediators are not directly involved with divorce court proceedings. Everything said or expressed during a mediation session is privileged and cannot be shared with the court.
What if we can’t reach any resolutions during mediation?
If parties are unable to resolve a dispute involving a particular topic, the mediator will notify the court and the court will schedule the case for a hearing on the disputed issues.
Who pays for mediation?
Both parties are usually responsible for their one-half share of the mediation fees. However, state funds are available if a party lacks the financial resources to participate in mediation.
How do I find a mediator?
Our firm works with many NH Seacoast area mediators who are certified by the NH Family Mediator Certification Board. Please contact our office and we’ll be happy to share our recommendations.
We are experienced and aggressive divorce lawyers in Portsmouth, NH and Dover, NH. We can help you arrange mediation and finalize proceedings in your case.