Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does it usually take to complete a mediated agreement?
If the parties are in essential agreement about how they will continue to parent their children, remaining issues of property division and support, on average, take two to five two-hour sessions. But many families are not "average". A great deal depends on the negotiating style of the parties. After the first meeting, the mediator can often make an assessment about the length of time that will be needed.
- What is the average cost?
Payment is for the mediator's time, so here again variation is great. Each of our mediators invites a cost-free telephone consultation at which time the process can be fully explained and the likely expense addressed. However, in every case the ultimate cost of mediation is far far less than would otherwise be incurred if the adversarial process were utilized.
- Do we have to use lawyers?
There is no legal requirement that an attorney be hired, but it is usually well advised that each party do so. However, careful selection of counsel is of critical importance. Your mediator can provide the names of lawyers who not only have significant expertise in the domestic relations area, but who will foster the parties remaining in control, and avoid the adversarial clash so many people fear. Sometimes an initial consultation suffices. But for some, more frequent advice is sought along the way. It is a very individual matter.
- What if my spouse knows a great deal about finance and I do not?
A skilled mediator assures both parties that all decisions made will be well-informed decisions. In other words, no decision is final until each participant has had a full opportunity to review whatever documents they may seek and to have whatever assistance they may need to interpret the information that has been gathered.
- My spouse is a skilled negotiator and I am not? Is mediation a realistic option for me?
Certainly. The mediator's most important role is to assure that the interests of both parties are fully addressed and that both are fully heard. This is often the most essential value of having a skilled neutral guiding the process and guaranteeing an even playing field. And should the parties choose to have their attorneys take part in the mediation sessions, that is arranged.
- We can't agree about anything these days? How could we possibly mediate?
Our results speak for themselves. Many high conflict couples enter mediation and find that in the safe setting of the mediator's office, with the mediator in control of the process, a certain calm is established which allows for useful discussions and eventual shared decisions.
- My spouse is an alcoholic? Can we mediate?
Mediation is generally ill advised if either participant is actively abusing drugs or alcohol. Persons well established in recovery are successful.
- If we can agree about most things before we even come in to mediate, won't that speed things up?
Sometimes, yes. But participants are well advised to keep all decisions made on their own tentative, until they begin mediation and fully grasp the big picture of all issues that must be resolved. If firm decisions are made before you even begin, and then with full information previously made decisions are called into question, for some, this undermines trust. So, if it is comfortable to do so, keep talking, but with the understanding that final agreements will only be made once all issues are on the table and fully explored.
- We plan to sell our house, but would really take a bath if we sold now? Does that mean we have to postpone our divorce until we sell?
No. Your mediator can suggest options for you to consider in this circumstance that will allow you to move forward even in today's difficult housing market.
- We are in serious debt. Should we file for bankruptcy first?
No simple answer here. These days significant debt issues must often be fully explored and resolved before a couple divorce. Where indicated, an attorney with bankruptcy expertise can become part of the mediation process as a consultant, so that wise decisions can be made.
- Are other experts sometimes called upon?
Yes, it is not uncommon for real estate or business valuation appraisers to be consulted. When an expert is jointly selected, there is far less likelihood to end up with the "war of the appraisers", bringing wildly divergent values to the table. Financial planners can often be of great assistance, especially when designing the most tax saving way of providing support. Less common, but when needed child psychologists can help define and work through difficult parenting issues.
- I want to mediate but my spouse does not. Can I force him/her to take part?
No. Mediation is a voluntary process, but often suggesting that a reluctant spouse talk with the mediator or explore our webpage, asmartdivorce. com, will allay concerns. On the other hand, if a divorce has already been granted, most shared patenting plans do require mediation before a Court filing can be made.
- Should we hire lawyers before we begin mediation?
Generally speaking, wait and get the mediators advice about this. With a basic understanding of the nature of the issues you are facing, sound recommendations for counsel can be made and you can avoid hiring someone who wakes up each morning just itching for a fight.
- Do I have to hire a mediator in the county where I live?
No. Our mediators assist couples living in the entire greater Cincinnati area including northern Kentucky.
- If I don't trust my spouse, how can I mediate?
Trust is neither required nor expected when parties are in the midst of ending an intimate relationship. In fact, it is the rare couple that is fully trusting at times like these. Decisions are made in mediation only after full information is gathered and documented to the extent needed. The couple that successfully completes mediation, however, often finds that trust can slowly be regained over time.