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<xTITLE>What Is Divorce Mediation and Why Might it Be Good for You?</xTITLE>

What Is Divorce Mediation and Why Might it Be Good for You?

by Lori Frio-Walker
May 2019 Lori Frio-Walker

There are cost effective and time efficient ways to divorce rather than hiring an attorney and litigating. Divorce and custody mediation creates a safe, cooperative setting for the parties to discuss emotional and substantive issues and engage in collaborative problem-solving. They will open lines of communication and help the parties gain clarity and a better understanding of each others interests.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution process that is designed to bring people in conflict together in a face-to-face meeting to work out solutions to their differences. The meeting is facilitated by a trained, neutral conflict specialist called a "mediator." The parties will negotiate their own settlements. The mediation process allows the parties to stay in control of the decisions made and the ultimate outcome. Instead of arguing your position against each other, you work together to reach a solution that satisfies both of your interests and the bests interests of your children.

What kinds of cases are mediated?

Mediation helps couples work out the terms of their divorce by mediating the following:

(1) Child custody and access, 
(2) Co-Parenting arrangements, 
(3) Divorce and separation, 
(4) Child support, 
(5) Spousal support, 
(6) Cohabitation agreements, 
(7) Marital Agreements (prenuptial agreements), 
(8) Partnership dissolution, and 
(9) Property settlements.

Is the Mediation Attorney representing me?

The mediation process allows the parties to stay in control of the decisions made and the ultimate outcome. Instead of arguing your position against each other, you work together to reach a solution that satisfies both of your interests and the bests interests of your children. The Mediation Attorney does not take sides, provide legal representation or made a decision like a judge would. The Mediation Attorney guides the process and allows you to create your own solution.

What kinds of cases can be mediated?

Couples can work out the terms of their divorce by mediating child custody and access, co-parenting arrangements, divorce and separation, child and spousal support, cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements, partnership dissolution and property settlements.

What are some advantages of mediation?

By mediating, parties save time and money. Mediation is often less time consuming and less expensive than litigation.

What are the steps in mediation?

The mediation process includes the following steps:

(1) Introductory Remarks - The parties meet with the mediator for an orientation about the process to reflect of their goals for a resolution. The mediator will wait until both parties are present and then make introductions. The physical setting will be controlled so that no party feels threatened. The mediator will give an opening statement which outlines the role of the participants and demonstrates the mediators neutrality. There is a review of the mediation guidelines, protocol and time frame.

(2) Statement of the Problem by the Parties - After the mediator's opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted. The person who requested the mediation session will go first. The statement provides the parties with the opportunity to frame issues in their own mind and give the mediator more information.

(3) Information Gathering / Problem Identification - The mediator will ask the parties open-ended questions and try to find common goals between the parties. The mediator will figure out which issues are going to be able to be settled or those that can be settled first.

(4) Generating Options - The mediator will develop options for the parties and explore potential solutions. This can lead to a final agreement, which can lessen conflict and provide a new basis for future relations. The mediator may hold private sessions with both parties, called caucusing, to help the parties move negotiations along. The caucus is a safe environment where each party can brainstorm with the mediator and surface underlying fears. The goal is to find common ground by exploring options and bring about solutions. Anything said in caucus will be confidential unless the parties waive confidentiality.

(5) Reaching an Agreement - Once the parties are committed to an agreement, the terms will be memorialized in writing. Once the agreement is reached, the parties are strongly encouraged to have the agreement reviewed by independent legal counsel. After the parties have had an opportunity to review their agreement with independent counsel, the mediator will prepare the Memorandum of Understanding, Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement, Mediated Custody Agreement, or other order suitable for filing with the court. If the mediation session concludes without a settlement, the mediator will provide the parties with a confidential and non-binding memorandum summarizing the session.

What if we can not agree?

Couples may struggle with agreeing on some matters, but most couples recognize the wisdom of compromising. With the help of our experienced Mediation Attorneys, most clients reach agreements.

If a party declines the invitation to mediate, conflict coaching is always a good option to help you prepare to address the situation on your own, improve skills to effectively manage conflict, develop and evaluate options on how to handle your dispute in positive ways and make an action plan for specific conduct.

Biography


Lori A. Frio-Walker, Attorney at Law, specializes in divorce and custody litigation and mediation and represents families from a variety of backgrounds.  Her family law experience includes all aspects of divorce, child custody, child support and spousal support.  Lori’s exceptional legal advocacy has earned her the recognition of her peers in prestigious publications including Super Lawyers’ Pennsylvania Rising Star list in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well as top 10 Female Family Lawyers under 40 in the State of Pennsylvania.



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