Frequently Asked Questions
Mediation is a confidential, out of court process, where the parties meet with a neutral individual, the mediator, to help them make decisions to attain agreement.
A mediator is a neutral person or case facilitator who cannot give legal advice, but can provide legal information. A mediator is permitted as an impartial individual to prepare the mediated agreement reached by the parties that they can take to Court. It is always recommended that mediation clients consult their own counsel to review any agreement prepared by the mediator where the mediator is a neutral and does not represent or act as counsel for any of the parties in the mediation process.
Mediation can be a streamlined and cost effective way to address family law problems and come to resolution.
What is a mediator?
What kind of training does a mediator have?
How do I prepare for mediation?
How does mediation differ from settlement counsel, Collaborative Law, and litigation?
However, unlike Collaborative Law and most litigation, clients in mediation often come to the mediation table without legal counsel, so they may not have an advocate in “real time” advising them in the mediation sessions. While parties in mediation, Collaborative Law and using settlement counsel have to be actively involved in the negotiating process, in mediation clients may be doing all the negotiations themselves without an attorney present even if they have consulted an attorney to advise them regarding the mediation process. In Collaborative Law and when using settlement counsel, the client has the assistance of legal counsel throughout the process.
Litigation is an in court process which tends to be more adversarial, provide parties with less control over process and outcome, and may have greater financial and emotional cost for parties and their families, but for some clients litigation may be a necessity. It is important to get legal advice to understand all your process options and what might work best for you.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Choosing mediation as the path to achieve an agreed upon settlement offers many potential advantages including, but not limited to:
- It is an out of court process focused on agreeing to resolve the family legal matter thorough negotiation, communication, and collaboration.
- It is private and confidential.
- It may help you and the other party find a way to move forward with your life in a more positive manner including but not limited to co-parenting after divorce.
- It may help maintain relationships with mutual friends, family, business, or community connections that you don’t want to “split” as a result of your divorce.
- You have more control over the process and outcome as you are not leaving it to the Court to make decisions for you.
- The emotional cost on you and your family and the financial cost can be less than litigation.
The timeframe for resolution of a family legal matter via mediation is generally shorter than litigation.
What if I don’t want to litigate, and am interested in mediation, Collaborative Law, or using settlement counsel, but am not sure if the other party will be willing to participate?
If you are also interested in Collaborative Law or using settlement counsel, as part of your consult with Levitt Family Law and Mediation, we can provide you with information that you can share with the other party that might help in deciding whether mediation, settlement counsel, or Collaborative Law is the best process to choose for you. In some cases, a hybrid model using more than one process can be used. For example, in one of our Collaborative Law cases, there was a single post-divorce issue that the parties and counsel all agreed would be best served by mediation with legal counsel present. Mediation and settlement counsel processes, including Collaborative Law, do not have to be mutually exclusive.
What happens during the mediation process?
We generally set aside two hours for each meeting, but parties are not required to use all of the time if it is not necessary. Some meetings are shorter or longer in length by design. Parties have an opportunity to be part of crafting the process as we go along, and should feel free to let the mediator know what is working and what is not, so that adjustments can be made along the way, to ensure that the process is as efficient and productive as possible.
Why Levitt Family Law & Mediation for Mediation?
Can a mediator act as our attorney or give legal advice?
Do I need a lawyer if I am in mediation?
Does the mediator come to court with us?
What is the cost of mediation?
At Levitt Family Law & Mediation, mediation is based on an hourly rate, and the parties determine how they want to divide the cost. If the mediation is with the parties only, payment may be “as you go”, meaning payment is made at the end of each mediation session, and any billing for services provided in between sessions is also the responsibility of the parties. A retainer however will be required if the parties are having the mediator who is an attorney draft their agreement, or under other circumstances as determined by the mediator. If the mediation is with parties and legal counsel, which often requires larger blocks of time, a retainer is required. Either way, mediation is often the least expensive of the process options to resolve a divorce or other family legal matter.