One of the most appealing aspects of Mediation is that you can control the process. You schedule the appointments, and you determine what topics are discussed when. The process takes as long as you and your spouse need to find a resolution. You can meet once a week for a month or once a month for a year, until a settlement is reached.
That being said—there is a general framework you can rely upon if you proceed with private mediation:
· IDENTIFY ISSUES: At the first session, you identify all potential issues that need to be resolved and identify all information that needs to be accumulated before you can start attempting to resolve those issues.
· INFORMATION GATHERING: Over the next few weeks, the parties are responsible for accumulating all necessary information and providing it to the mediator and each other. In mediation, both parties make a commitment to provide full and accurate documentation when requested.
· TOPIC RESOLUTION: Once all information is gathered, you seek to find a resolution to each issue, one at a time. In future posts we will discuss HOW you can go about seeking resolutions.
· DRAFTING OF MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: After all issues have been amicably/tentatively resolved, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding setting forth the parties’ agreement.
· REVIEW ATTORNEYS: The Memorandum of Understanding is brought by the parties to their individual attorneys for review. This is where the parties receive independent legal advice to ensure that the agreement is in accordance with relevant law. In a future post, we will discuss the role of the Review Attorney in more detail.
· OBTAIN A JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE: Once the parties’ attorneys are in agreement with the terms, the Memorandum of Understanding is conformed into a Marital Settlement Agreement and the parties can proceed to formally obtain a Judgment of Divorce from the Court.
It is always worth taking the time to explore the mediation process. It is by far the cheapest of all the divorce options—so spending an hour (and a small consultation fee) to decide if it is the right option for you is well worth it.