How does mediation work? What is the mediation process?
First I speak with each of the sides on the phone to get a general sense of what the overall dispute is about.
Once mediating parties decide to go forward, we schedule a time for mediation and the parties pay a $250 deposit. This deposit is usually paid proportionately, half-and-half two parties, unless given certain circumstances one of the parties should pay more than the others (for example where one spouse works while the other has been the at-home spouse).
Once we have set up a time, I have the parties sign a mediation agreement in which the parties agree to confidentiality and two other ground rules of the mediation process.
For homework, I ask that each side prepare a list of issues that they like to discuss, and then prioritize them. When we meet, we will go through all of the issues for both sides, generally speaking from the easiest problems to solve to the most difficult.
If lawyers are involved, typically I will get a brief or letter explaining the issues. I’m happy to review anything that either side thinks is important and persuasive.
I meet with both sides together in a room followed by individual sessions with each side separately. For online mediations, I use the online video mediation equivalent with a joint video session via Zoom, followed by individual sessions. These sessions need not take place on the same day, they can occur over several days or weeks as necessary. In some cases joint meetings are counterproductive and we only meet separately.
How long does mediation take? How much will it cost?
Simple matters can be resolved in as little as a couple of hours.
Most matters take a day, sometimes spread over several days or some weeks as people work through issues.
Obviously if parties are more agreeable and flexible, mediation will take less time.
For complicated matters, such as multiparty matters, environmental matters, and complex litigation with administrative agency involvement and mediated discovery issues, mediation can take weeks, months, or in some cases even years.
In any event, mediation is a lot cheaper than litigation.
How much do you charge?
For typical two-party matters I charge $250 hourly. I keep track of my time and bill in tenths of hours. I do not charge for the initial consultation that I have with parties.
Do I need to meet in person? Can I do video online mediation or mediation via phone calls?
No, we can meet virtually.
We can do online mediation or video mediation sessions or mediation via phone calls.
I like having in-person meetings where we can because I have found people find saying “no” much easier via phone or video than in person. I like to make sure the people are committed to the process, and willing to consider alternatives that might solve the problem.
But video mediation and mediation via phone calls is awfullly convenient, and moves things along quickly—and are consistent with social-distancing guidelines.
Will you file divorce paperwork for a divorce once we have agreed on everything?
No, I don’t file divorce paperwork.
But that can be done cheaply through a filing service once we get to an agreement on all issues.
At the end of our mediation sessions, I expect that we will have agreement on all issues, and we will create a memorandum of agreement signed by both parties. This agreement will contain the central deal points and, equally important, the parties intent behind their agreement will govern how things are interpreted in the case of anything needing interpretation. The memorandum also will contain a structure for future negotiations to help the parties from needing to resort to attorneys, mediators, and courts.
Once we have concluded mediation, the parties have several options.
- They can prepare and file paperwork themselves.
- They can also hire a paralegal or divorce-filing service to help prepare and file divorce paperwork.
- They can hire an attorney who works with both sides together.
- They can hire separate attorneys .
I don’t represent either side and am not acting as a lawyer; I am acting as a neutral mediator. I want the parties to be sure that they agree on everything that they wanted to agree on, and understand everything they have agreed upon, so that paperwork prepared reflects their agreements and intent.