Mediation and Divorce
I recently attended a conference on mediation. The keynote speaker was Christopher Voss from The Black Swan Group. Mr. Voss worked for the FBI for many years and is now a business consultant. This is a man whose resume includes Lead International Hostage Negotiator. Of course, his presentation was very interesting. His toughest negotiation: his divorce(!) Welcome to my world…..
Mediation is an available option for matrimonial matters. It is an alternative to the traditional litigation process. It is a collaborative process which involves the parties and a neutral mediator. The mediator is often an attorney. Sometimes the mediator is a social worker or therapist. The mediator’s job is to facilitate the negotiation between the parties. It is the parties that discuss and resolve their issues. Once agreements are reached, it is often reduced to writing. Some mediations last one day. Others require several meetings to identify and get through all the issues. It depends on where the parties start (have they discussed any of the issues beforehand?) and how many differences they have. Full disclosure of all financial information by both parties is expected. Parties are also expected to participate in good faith. It is advisable for each party to retain their own attorney outside of the mediation. The attorney can offer legal advice and make sure the final agreement is properly drafted. Mediation is voluntary and can be aborted at any time. If mediation is successful, the final agreement will need to be prepared and presented to the court along with other paperwork. Attendance at court is necessary for the divorce to be granted. If mediation is unsuccessful, the mediator is prevented from representing either party and cannot be called as a witness to anything said or done during mediation. The parties will then have to proceed with the traditional litigation process and either retain their own attorneys or represent themselves.