For so many couples, mediation is the most efficient and positive way to go through the difficult process of divorce. We have heard those terrible stories of friends and relatives who hired separate divorce attorneys and battled it out in court. The time and expense of divorce litigation is usually astronomical and so painful for the children and the parties. A divorce played out in court can literally go on for years and put both parties in severe debt. Mediation can be the exact opposite – quick and inexpensive. Once a couple decides to divorce, they undoubtedly want to resolve the matter as quickly and easily as possible so that they can move forward with their own lives and so that the transition process for their children goes as smoothly as possible. Mediation is the ideal vehicle.
In mediation, the parties work with one mediator who they choose together. Therefore, the parties split the cost of one mediator. This is much more cost effective than each spouse going out and hiring their own attorney. In mediation, the parties meet with the mediator together for hourly sessions at which time they simply pay for the hour on a shared basis. Most mediations can be completed in about 10 sessions or less. Furthermore, when hiring separate divorce attorneys, each spouse must each lay out a hefty retainer to their respective attorneys. There are no such retainers required in mediation.
It is important to note that mediation works for couples where they disagree on complex issues. There is a common misconception that mediation only works in amicable divorces. This simply is not true. In most instances, if the parties both want to mediate, a skilled mediator can assist them in breaking down the issues, determining each of their true needs and finding a resolution acceptable to both parties.
Working together with a mediator as a guide, leads to solutions that truly work for both parties. Sitting together discussing the issues that matter and sharing information, enables the mediator to guide the parties to fair and workable decisions. Mediation promotes creative solutions and equity as the mediator is keeping the total agreement in mind the entire mediation process. This insures that the parties are treated fairly and that the decisions they reach reflect their desires and will actually work in their daily lives. For example, when trying to determine the best way to divide the parent’s time with their children, the parties and the mediator can offer many options and allow the parents to actually try them out in their daily life to see if they truly work with their schedules.
When children are involved, mediation is consistently the better alternative for their mental health and well-being. Studies have found that it is not the divorce itself that causes great damage to the children, but rather the animosity that stems from the divorce process. A drawn out adversarial process in court is filled with animosity that directly impacts the children. Because mediation is done quickly and cooperatively with the guidance of an impartial expert, damage to the children’s mental well-being can be avoided or at the very least severely lessened when compared to the adversarial process. Many divorced couples who have been through the courts often recount that things started out fairly calm and easy but grew out of control as they moved through the adversarial process – it is the nature of the adversarial process which breeds this adversarial attitude both inside and outside the courtroom.
As children grow their needs and schedules change dramatically. In a court decided divorce, when the parties need to adjust decisions regarding the children, each party again needs to pay their divorce lawyer and seek the court’s involvement. In mediation, the parties simply return to the mediator for a session or two and revise the original agreement. This holds true for any changes that the parties want to make to their initial agreement as their lives change, which they certainly always do.
At Rogers, Habas, Verrilli & Eisen, PC, we are pleased to have Lauren Eisen, an attorney/mediator as part of our firm. Because Ms. Eisen is both an attorney and a mediator she brings a wealth of experience and perspective to her mediation clients. Additionally, once the parties have jointly reached decisions on all the relevant matters, because Ms. Eisen is not just a mediator but an attorney as well, she can draft the separation agreement and file all the appropriate related divorce papers with the court. Moreover, if other legal steps need to be taken to implement the agreement, such as transferring the deed of the home or other assets, Ms. Eisen can also assist the parties with such items. Thus, when you come to Rogers & Habas for mediation, you can have the entire divorce process completed in the most efficient manner possible.