Do You Have Questions About Mediation?
Frequently asked questions about mediation at Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A..
Any couple entering mediation will have questions pertaining to the process. Some of the most common questions include the following:
1. What information will be exchanged?
The mediator will require basic statements pertaining to assets as well as requiring each party to complete a detailing of liabilities and an anticipated budget (i.e. mortgage/rent, bank accounts, utilities etc.). The scope of discovery is substantially curtailed when compared to the exchange of information and documentation in traditional litigation.
2. Will the mediator speak to my spouse without me?
The mediator will not discuss the substance of disputes or the case without both parties present. Any written or email communication will be with both parties. In some instances, the mediator may caucus (or meet separately) with each party, upon notice and as necessary, but will not “keep secrets” during the process.
3. How long will it take?
The short answer is that it will take less time than traditional litigation. Many couples are able to resolve their differences within three to four sessions, if they are open, honest, and obtain the information required to move the matter forward. More complicated cases, with extensive asset holdings or businesses, may require additional sessions or the involvement of experts.
4. How much will it cost?
Resolution can be achieved in many cases for less than the $5,000, initial retainer that couples are often each required to pay to retain their own counsel ($10,000 total).
5. Will the mediator tell us the law or make rulings?
The mediator will not make legal judgments or rulings pertaining to your issues, but may have recommendations for you to consider. If general concepts of law are shared, they are done so in the nature of compromise, not necessarily to confine the parties in reaching a resolution.
6. Do I still get a lawyer?
Participants in mediation are strongly encouraged to obtain their own lawyer as they go through the process, or for review purposes, to understand and appreciate their rights under the law.
7. Is it possible to proceed without lawyers?
Although Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A. always advises the parties to at least consult with counsel to understand their legal rights, it is possible to proceed with processing an agreement on a pro se (self-represented) basis.
8. If we agree, is a document produced?
Yes, if an agreement is reached in mediation, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is produced that can be provided to your independent counsel for review. Once finalized, your agreement can be converted into a marital settlement agreement and incorporated into a final judgment of divorce before the court.
9. Is what we discuss confidential?
Absolutely. Everything discussed in mediation is strictly without prejudice and confidential. This certifies that business associates, other family members, or friends will not be privy to issues the parties intend to keep private.
10. Who sets the ground rules?
Although the parties participate in this process together, the mediator typically “guides the ship” as to boundaries, ground rules, and mutual respect.
11. Can we talk to a Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A. mediator before retaining or getting started?
Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A. offers a complimentary 30-minute meet-and-greet session for those interested in mediation, without any obligation.
12. How do we pay for this?
At Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A., those wishing to mediate enter a limited retainer of $500, and then pay for each session as they go. Said costs can be paid from joint assets or the parties can stipulate that one party or the other will pay. Payments can be made by check, credit card, or in cash.
13. Who can terminate mediation?
The mediator or either party can terminate the mediation process at any time, for any reason.