Frequently Asked Questions

How is mediation different? What is the end result of mediation?
How long will the mediation take and how much will it cost? Who pays for mediation?
What are our chances for success? What if we already agree on lots of things?
What can I do to prepare for mediation? What if we don't reach agreement?
What about individual attorneys? What about utilizing experts?
What are the principles on which mediation is based?

How is mediation different?

Mediation brings people in conflict together with a neutral third person who assists them in reaching a voluntary agreement. The mediator helps them clarify the issues, consider options, and reach a workable settlement that fits their needs. Some of the advantages of mediation are:

  • You get to decide: mediation allows the parties to maintain control over the decision-making process by enhancing the parties’ ability to make decisions for themselves rather than having an attorney or judge make decisions for them;
  • The focus is on needs and interests: mediation examines the underlying causes of the problem and looks at what solutions best suit your unique needs and satisfy your interests;
  • Informality: mediation provides greater flexibility, thereby allowing parties to make fully informed, customized decisions
  • Deals with emotions: mediation minimizes hostility and eases the pain of separation
  • Balanced: mediation keeps the interactions and negotiations between the parties balanced
  • Maintains privacy and confidentiality: mediations are confidential, unlike most court cases that are matters of public record
  • Continuing relationships: mediation promotes continued cooperation and communications between the parties, especially where children are involved
  • Time efficient: mediation can be completed in sessions over a few weeks, where months/years may pass before a case comes to trial
  • Cost efficient: mediation services are available at a low cost where the court process is expensive, and the costs can exceed the benefits
  • Future focus: mediation helps the parties in putting the past behind them and concentrating on the future

What is the end result of mediation?

The goal of mediation is to help the parties communicate with each other so that together they can develop a mutually acceptable agreement that considers the needs and concerns of the entire family and that each party is willing to honor in the years ahead. If the parties are seeking to divorce, the agreement will be submitted to the court to be incorporated in any decree entered by the court.

How long will the mediation take and how much will it cost?

Unfortunately, it is hard to predict with precision how long mediation will take or how much mediation will cost. These issues depend primarily on how agreeable the participants are. Generally, for separation, divorce and family matters, we meet between three to five sessions for approximately 1.5-2.0 hours each session. The cost of a comprehensive mediated Memorandum of Agreement generally ranges between $1,000.00 and $2,500.00, depending upon the complexity of the case. Even with attorneys’ fees to review the draft factored in, mediation costs will be much less than fees for traditional attorney negotiation and representation. We will be as specific as possible in these regards once we have a better understanding of your situation and the issues to be addressed.

Who pays for mediation?

Responsibility for mediation fees is an issue to be decided by the mediation participants when they sign the Agreement to Mediate. Participants are encouraged to consider sharing fees to some extent so all will benefit from an expeditious and economic resolution.

What are our chances for success?

Over the past 30 years, over 98% of parties entering into the mediation process at Conflict Management Associates have reached collaborative and comprehensive agreements. This high success rate is due to most participants being highly motivated and committed to reaching an agreement. Mediation, however, is not for everyone. Some people are intent on destroying, punishing, and making the ex-spouse/partner pay. In these circumstances you may need to consult with an attorney or seek court intervention.

What if we already agree on lots of things?

Fantastic! The first thing that we want to do in mediation is to identify what you already agree on. We will use those points of agreement as a foundation for your overall Agreement. The standards that make sense to you on certain “easy” issues can often be applied to resolve more difficult issues. We want to be sure that your Memorandum of Agreement is well-balanced and that you are aware of the many issues that you may want to consider. What is included in your Agreement is up to you. Our goal in mediation is to help you work together to recognize your independent interests and find creative solutions that maximize the gain for each person when your needs, desires, and what you think is fair are in conflict. Mediation provides an informal, supportive atmosphere and gives each of you the chance to identify what is most important to you in negotiating an amicable settlement.

What can I do to prepare for mediation?

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure a satisfying and successful mediation experience is to prepare by thinking about your desired outcomes and concentrate on your present and future needs and interests.

What if we don’t reach agreement?

In mediation, all discussions and materials, with very few exceptions, are confidential. If no mediated Agreement is reached, evidence of the mediation discussions, mediation materials and documents, offers of settlement, and any draft agreement will not be admissible in court or any other adversarial or administrative hearing. Also, since everything is confidential, we cannot be required to produce our work product or testify in any court proceeding. In some cases, however, the parties can successfully mediate some of the issues, while leaving other unresolved disputes for a court to decide.

What about individual attorneys?

Mediation does not take the place of legal representation. Although we are mediators with a legal background, we serve as an impartial third party and do not represent either party or provide legal advice. We are ethically bound to advise you to have any Memorandum of Agreement reviewed by individual legal counsel prior to your signing that Agreement. In practice, we have found that it works best for the mediating parties to obtain a couple hours of individual legal advice throughout the mediation process. This legal advice may be best obtained early in the mediation by legal counsel’s review of the initial draft of the Agreement, and certainly should be followed up by counsel’s review of the final Agreement. Your attorney can also help you to develop proposals and advise you about your legal rights so that you can be an informed negotiator. This level of consultation will dramatically elevate your comfort level and confidence in the mediation process and final agreement. If you do not have an attorney, we can provide you with a list of family law attorneys that you may wish to consider consulting.

What about utilizing experts?

It may make sense for mediation participants to bring mutually trusted experts into the process. For example, participants may desire a valuation of real property, personal property or a business. It is also common for mediating parties to choose to jointly consult with an accountant and/or financial planner to identify, value, and divide joint assets and liabilities. Mediation participants with parenting concerns may find it beneficial to obtain the thoughts and recommendations of a trusted child psychologist. Lastly, participants may choose to jointly retain an impartial advisory attorney who, based upon agreed-upon set of facts, may render an advisory non-binding opinion on how a court might resolve the identified issues. The purpose of all these experts is to work with both parties to give you the information you need to make informed decisions and negotiate an agreement. CMA maintains a list from which the parties may choose experts. All experts will execute the Agreement to Mediate and be bound by the confidentiality provisions. Likewise, in order to maintain their impartiality, they cannot be required to disclose their documentation or testify in court should the parties fail to reach an Agreement.

What are the principles on which mediation is based?

Mediation is based on the following principles that guide its practice:

  1. The family is the client, not the individual party. The mediator does not champion one party’s interests over the other’s but focuses on solutions that address the needs of all family members
  2. The mediator's highest priority is to help the parties to focus on the best interest of their children and develop parenting plans that ensure the children a continuing relationship with both parents
  3. The parties retain full control over the decisions and agreements. The mediator helps develop options and explore alternatives but does not impose decisions on the parties
  4. The mediator is an advocate of each person’s well-being but remains neutral as to the settlement terms
  5. Mediation helps the parties shape their futures, not settle the past
  6. Mediation is not about finding the truth; there is no right and wrong in mediation, only differences in perceptions
  7. Mediation creates an environment in which new ideas can be considered and enables parties to learn the skills to resolve future disputes
  8. The goal of mediation is to produce an equitable and workable settlement, not a winner and loser

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