MD (Mediated Divorce) is an innovative, creative way to make divorce more peaceful and less expensive. The name says it all: a divorce case mediated from start to end. Both spouses maintain autonomy over all decisions about children and property. If they are able to cooperate to work through the painful stages of divorce grief, MD is a great option to create durable agreements and reshape your morphing family relationships.
Do you need attorneys in MD? Yes, in a secondary role as part time consultants, separate counsel “on call” to help you make sure you fully understand your legal rights. As you make tentative agreements, your attorney can review and/or prepare any documents that may affect your legal rights. (Unlike contested divorce where you turn everything over to your attorney, in MD you meet with them for specific reasons, about limited issues that need to be addressed to help you move forward.) Using a mediator and two advising attorneys costs far less than one litigation attorney.
Sessions are attended by both spouses and the mediator. The number of sessions depends on issue complexity and spouses’ willingness and ability to cooperate. Follow-up sessions are contemplated and scheduled as needed, as early as the parties believe they can be prepared to effectively meet again, and complete their “homework”, such as gathering financial information, or meeting with individual attorneys for advice and guidance on critical legal issues going forward. MD is a participative and holistic process: you have to do your part to let the mediation process help you. Your autonomy and effort create an opportunity to work through the emotional trauma of divorce.
If you need financial advice on how to fairly divide Social Security, regular and military pensions, traditional and Roth IRAs, 401-Ks, business and property evaluations, etc., can share the cost for a financial consultant’s expert advice. If you know someone you both trust, let’s hire them to help you; if not, I’ll recommend some professionals I trust for your consideration. If needed, an expert can assess your financial status and answer questions, so you can both make informed consent decisions regarding how to fairly divide your assets. A shared expert is far less expensive than each side hiring one or more litigation experts to do the same work (with a bias for their client), then argue why they are right and the other expert (who has their own opposing bias) is wrong.
Candor, good faith and full disclosure are required. If these levels of cooperation are not possible, litigation may be the right way to go.
When does MD end? It ends when it’s done, and it takes as long as it takes. With spouses motivated to be efficient and economical, it will take far less time and money than litigation. The goal is fully stipulated divorce paperwork about everything: Parenting Plan, child support, spousal maintenance (aka “alimony”), pension and property division, etc. Durable divorce agreement about moving forward, which both parties can own and honor because they created them, are MD’s best and intended endings.
Once again, my role as mediator is independent, third-party neutral. I will not give legal advice, as that would create a conflict of interest favoring one spouse over the other. I will give “legal information” to both parties.