15 Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator
Considering divorce mediation? Divorce mediation is a popular form of alternative dispute resolution that allows couples to craft their own support, custody, and property distribution arrangements and avoid going to court. Here are fifteen questions you should ask a divorce mediation lawyer before engaging in mediation, and answers from the Philadelphia divorce mediation lawyers at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman.
#1. Is Mediation Right for My Spouse & Me?
If both of you want to engage in mediation, chances are it will work for you. When we meet with clients we take note of the dynamic between them. Even if there are moments of high emotion between you, the presence of the neutral third party professional can help you to focus on the issues you need to resolve rather than react to the problems that led to divorce.
If there has been domestic abuse, or one of you does not want to engage in divorce mediation, mediation will not work for you.
#2. Why Do You Recommend Mediation?
We recommend mediation as a way for couples to take control of their support, custody, and property distribution arrangements. It is much better for divorcing couples to arrive at their own solutions rather than have solutions imposed upon them by a judge.
Successful mediation also allows couples to file an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania, which is more amicable, resolves more quickly, and is much less expensive than a traditional, litigated divorce.
#3. What Are Your Qualifications?
You want an experienced, trained mediator to help guide you to an agreement on the issues.
Our divorce mediation attorneys have over 40 years of experience helping families in the Philadelphia area resolve issues arising from divorce. We have been trained by the American Arbitration Association, the American Family and Conciliation Court, and come recommended by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas as a Parenting Coordinator in high-conflict cases. We also participate in collaborative divorce cases.
#4. What Is Your Mediation Style Like?
When you meet with a divorce mediation lawyer, you will get a sense of their approach to handling clients. Every lawyer is different. You should feel comfortable talking with them and disclosing personal information, and confident they will help you.
Mediators tailor their approach to each couple but in all instances remain neutral and professional.
#5. Do You Also Practice Divorce Litigation?
You should know this about your divorce mediation lawyer because a litigator knows what custody, support, and property distribution arrangements the court are customary. .
Our divorce mediation lawyers represent clients in divorce in the five county Philadelphia area and can help clients arrive at agreements that work for their family and that the court will approve.
#6. What Can I Do If My Spouse is Disrespectful?
The presence of a divorce mediator often helps couples avoid getting emotional or personal. That said, if one is disrespectful of the other during the process, an experienced mediator guides them and gets them back on track.
In cases where the relationship between the couple has become acrimonious, mediation may not be appropriate. A mediator is not a family counselor or therapist, although they may have some overlapping skills.
#7. What Happens If My Spouse is Dishonest?
If one party is lying to the other or to the mediator, mediation will not work for you. You must retain a traditional divorce litigation lawyer to help you resolve your issues.
#8. My Spouse & I No Longer Speak; Can Mediation Still Work?
Mediation may not work unless you can discuss your goals with each other. If your relationship has deteriorated to the point where you cannot communicate, mediation is likely not right for you.
#9. Is Mediation Binding?
Mediation is not binding, meaning you are not required to follow results you get from mediation unless they are memorialized in a court order or final divorce decree.
#10. Do I Still Need a Divorce Attorney if We Go Through Mediation?
You may. You can always retain a divorce attorney to advise you as to your options when you engage in mediation. Remember a divorce mediator is neutral. If you need an advocate to help you explore support, custody, and property distribution possibilities, you need a divorce attorney advising you. It is certainly not a requirement that you engage your own attorney to represent you while going through mediation. It is, however, something to consider.
#11. Can I Include My Attorney in Our Meetings?
Most mediators discourage the presence of attorneys at mediation because the proceedings tend to become adversarial, and the attorneys do the talking rather than the couple.
#12. Can I Meet Privately with You?
Generally not. However, during the process, if parties “get stuck”, a short private meeting to discuss the issue, called “caucus” can be helpful.
#13. How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
Divorce mediation takes as long as it needs. If the issues to be resolved are few or simple, it may take only one or two sessions. If the issues are many or complex, especially in the case of high net worth divorces, it may take several sessions.
#14. How Much Does Mediation Cost?
Your mediator either charges by the session or by the hour, and you will know in advance what that rate is. A divorce mediator’s fee varies according to experience.
#15. Do You Include Preparation & Filing of Court Documents with Your Mediation Services?
Our office will prepare the agreements the parties enter into, once agreements have been reached. We do not, however, file court documents for our mediation clients.
Finding a the Right Divorce Mediator for You
If you are considering divorce mediation, meet with a divorce mediation lawyer first and trust your instincts. If you both feel comfortable talking with them and confident they can help you, the mediation process will be beneficial to you.
If you live in the five county Philadelphia area, call our divorce mediation lawyers for help with your divorce. Put our experience to work for you.