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FACT SHEET ON FAMILY AND DIVORCE MEDIATION

Q: What is Divorce Mediation?

A: Divorce mediation is an enlightened way to resolve financial and parental issues when couples decide to separate and divorce. Mediation seeks to minimize the adversarial process by helping couples to negotiate the settlement issues that will become the basis for a formal separation agreement by enlisting the aid of a trained mediator.

Q: Who can use Divorce Mediation?

A. Mediation is for people who:

 

  1. Want control over the decisions affecting their lives.

 

  1. Want co-operative long-term family solutions, focusing on the future for themselves and their children.

 

  1. Want to avoid court-ordered decisions.

 

  1. Want to reduce the time and possible stress and expense of an adversarial divorce.

Q: What is the Mediator's role?

A. The mediator is a neutral third party who provides a structured environment in which couples can make decisions. The mediator is a catalyst who helps the parties reach an agreement, but who has no authority to impose a settlement. A mediator can make suggestions, propose options, reason, persuade, re-frame issues, formalize offers, and recommend possible ways of resolving a disagreement.

Q: What is the Attorney's role?

A. Couples planning separation and divorce are urged to consult separate attorneys to obtain legal advice prior to signing any Separation Agreement. One of the party's attorneys will then submit the documents necessary to obtain a divorce to the Court.

Q: What issues may be covered in Mediation?

1. Financial and Property

Determination of marital income, assets, liabilities.

Development of budgets.

Finding a system for division of marital property.

Defining and rescheduling spousal maintenance and/or child support.

2. Parenting Arrangements

Assessment of children's and parents' needs.

Exploration of possible living arrangements.

Defining opportunities for parental access to children.

Considering changing needs as children grow older.

3. Future Planning and Decision Making

Anticipation of future needs and possibilities.

Alternative for avoiding future litigation.

Development of procedures for problem-solving and decision making.

Q: How does the process work?

1. Assessment

Divorce Mediation is intended for couples who are ready to separate and divorce. The orientation session with the mediator is used to evaluate whether mediation is appropriate. At that point, the couple and the mediator decide either to (1) proceed with the mediation process, or (2) to work on the issues using other professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers, etc., or (3), to each retain an attorney and proceed to adversarial divorce litigation in Court.

2. Issue Identification and Preparation

Family information and financial data forms are completed. Issues to be decided are identified and the parties begin to work with the mediator on setting priorities. Focusing on the issues is an important step in finding ways to resolve them.

3. Negotiation

Serious attention to possible alternatives and the weighing of choices offer the parties the opportunity to move toward decisions. Throughout negotiations, care is taken that all family members' needs and concerns are addressed.

4. Agreements

The result of the mediation sessions is a proposed Separation Agreement, also called a Property Settlement Agreement, which is prepared in draft form by Mr. Leininger. Each party receives a copy of this proposed agreement so that his or her attorney may review the proposed agreement, answer any questions he or she may have, etc. One attorney thereupon prepares the agreement in final form, it is signed by both of you and one attorney files the necessary papers to permit his client to obtain an uncontested divorce, which will result in a Judgment of Divorce which incorporates the terms of the Separation Agreement into it.

Q: How long is a typical Mediation?

A. In general, mediation is a short-term process, usually lasting about 5 - 7 sessions of 90 minutes each, if there are parenting issues to consider. If the issues are only financial in nature, the time is usually less. Typically, weekly meetings are scheduled, and the work can be completed in 4 - 8 weeks.

Q: What does Mediation cost?

A. The fee for the 30 minute orientation session is only $100. There is no obligation to move forward with mediation, but rather we encourage the two of you to go home and think over the idea of using a Divorce Mediator. If you and your spouse decide to move forward and begin Divorce Mediation, our firm requires an initial retainer fee of $3,500 for Mr. Leininger, or $2,500 for his Associate Attorney, Erin K. Colgan, Esq.  This retainer is placed in an escrow account and payments made from the escrow account as services are rendered. Unless otherwise agreed between the couple in writing, the fee is shared by the couple. The cost of mediation is usually offset to some extent by a reduction in the time necessary for consultation with an attorney, since Mr. Leininger will have already prepared the draft Property Settlement Agreement, and they will make available to the attorney obtaining the divorce a floppy disk in either WordPerfect or Word format of the Agreement.

 


Provided as a public service by:

 William J. Leininger, PC
Attorney at Law

34 Dumont Ave.

Staten Island, New York

(718) 979-5200

E-Mail: mail@silaw.com

Web:www.jerseydivorce.com

 

 

[William J. Leininger, PC] 2006 All Rights Reserved