Supplied with the right information and guidance, you can negotiate your own divorce. For the overwhelming majority of people, the time, expense and uncertainty of a litigated divorce makes absolutely no sense. If you compare the available methods, you will find that divorce mediation can be your best choice.
Divorce mediation is a process where, instead of hiring separate attorneys, a couple wanting to divorce hires a neutral third party – one or more mediators – to help them communicate effectively and work through the issues in their divorce.
The issues decided during mediation are identical to those decided through litigation or any other method including:
How to divide your property (your home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, cars, etc.),
Whether one of you will pay maintenance (alimony) to the other and,
If there are children, how much time you will will have with the kids, how decisions will be made, and child support.
Quicker, Less Expensive and Better
Mediation is often much quicker and less expensive than litigation and it often yields better results. With mediation, YOU are in control of the process, not a rigid and impersonal legal system. Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions. Litigation can provoke anxiety and can even be terrifying to many people. Mediation makes it possible to make good decisions in an environment that is as calm and productive as possible.
Mediation works for most divorcing couples provided they are non-violent, willing to make full disclosure of their finances, and willing to participate in the discussions and negotiate in good faith.
The idea of negotiating your own divorce can seem daunting at first. We encourage you to try mediation and see for yourself. The right mediator will help you feel at ease. If it's just not for you, then we encourage you to consider a negotiated divorce using mediation-friendly attorneys (see below).
The Mediator's Job
The mediator's job is to:
Facilitate the mediation process in an impartial manner.
Provide legal information but not legal advice.
Provide a safe environment where you can discuss and negotiate the blueprint of your lives after divorce.
Make sure both parties have all the information and expertise they need to make sound decisions.
Mediator's are not judges or arbitrators whose job it is to decide the issues for you. Our job is to help you make your own decisions.
Team Divorce Mediation
We offer mediation with an attorney mediator alone and a team of two -- an attorney mediator and a psychotherapist mediator (Phil Wild and Dayle Brenner Wild). Some couples find it very useful having two mediators in the room, representing legal and psychological points of view and separate male/female perspectives. It helps each party feel that they are truly being heard and understood. It often helps the mediation proceed more efficiently. We offer this as an option for the entire course of the mediation or for individual sessions.
You Don't Need to Be Friendly
It doesn't hurt if you are on good terms but it's not required. Divorce involves conflict. The mediator’s job is to help you manage that conflict to reach a solution. All that is required is a willingness to sit in the same room, to communicate and to keep an open mind. Even where there is acrimony, mediation can improve communication with your spouse and build a foundation for productively managing conflicts in the future. Our expertise and experience in both the logistics and emotional aspects of divorce will enable you to communicate as allies rather than enemies. Study upon study document that the reduction of hostility between divorcing partners is the #1 variable in the subsequent well-being of their children caught in the middle.
How Long It Takes
How long it takes depends on your circumstances. Sometimes, mediations last as few as one or two hour-long sessions. Others can take as many as six to eight sessions. Some people prefer 90 -120 minute sessions, or one-day marathons. Your threshold, temperament and scheduling logistics. After our initial meeting, you will have a better idea of the types of session that will work best for you.
It's the mediator's job to give an impartial presentation of the issues so the parties can evaluate the deal on their own but, just to make sure, some people hire a "review attorney" to advise them and review the legal papers. We encourage you to engage separate review attorneys to ensure that your individual interests are taken into account.
For a step-by-step description of how mediation works, check our Mediation Navigator: