Mediation provides couples a safe confidential place to discuss and resolve conflict leading to an equitable settlement. The mediator is an impartial neutral encouraging parties to use open and honest communication to resolve conflict. Mediation can be used for divorce, custody and support, alimony, paternity actions, and modifications. If your divorce involves only the division of assets and liabilities and no children, or emancipated children, mediation is the least expensive, time saving and most amicable way to divorce. Keep the money you have saved for yourselves rather than spending large retainers for two attorneys. This does not mean that you can’t or won’t consult with an attorney as needed throughout the process or to review the drafted Agreement, but if you choose to use a mediator, you are not required to have a lawyer.
If you also have children, you and your spouse can create an equitable settlement that works for both of you and discuss co-parenting options that work for your family. Mediation allows you to create your own parenting schedule, taking into consideration the particular needs of your children and your lives. In mediation, you will divide your assets and liabilities equitably, determine the amount of financial support for your children and maintain a positive healthy relationship with your children through cooperative co-parenting.
When Should I Use Mediation?
You may use a mediator at any time before, during, or after your separation or divorce. Your mediator may help you resolve one or more of the following: child custody and support, parenting schedules, alimony, property, asset and debt division, taxes, medical, dental and life insurance coverage.
As long as you and your spouse are willing and able to sit in a conference room together with the mediator, then mediation is right for you. Both parties must be willing to take a good faith approach to disclosing assets and liabilities to each other so that informed decisions can be made. Mediation can also be used after a Complaint for Divorce has been filed, served and/or the parties have already been to Court for a Motion hearing. If you decide that you want to work out your differences with your spouse through mediation, a Motion to Amend the Complaint for Divorce to a Joint Petition can be filed.
Do I need a lawyer if I am using a mediator?
You do not need a lawyer to use mediation but the Mediator cannot be your lawyer nor provide you with legal advice. Consulting with a lawyer is encouraged when you have a question requiring legal advice. Often parties consult with a lawyer to review the Separation Agreement once it has been prepared.
You will not be required to hire a lawyer and lawyers are not usually present during the mediation sessions. The Mediator provides you with step-by-step instructions for filing for an uncontested divorce and prepares you for your hearing in front of the Judge.
Are Sessions Confidential?
Yes, all mediations sessions are fully confidential, according to Massachusetts State Law, Chapter 233, Section 23c, which provides for the mediator/client privilege.
How much time does it take and what does it cost?
The average mediation process takes three to five sessions, depending on the issues involved. Some parties do a lot of talking on their own, before coming in and coming to an agreement on some but not all of the issues. Other parties prefer to discuss and resolve conflict only when in the conference room with the Mediator. Unlike litigation, mediation goes at your own pace, is voluntary, and you can choose to stop at any time. The first fifteen minutes of the initial mediation session are free. During that time the Mediator explains the process and a professional service contract is signed. After that, your mediation costs will be based on a $400.00 per hour charge. Participants can share the cost and payment is due at the end of each session. Unlike litigation, no retainer is required.
There is also a flat fee due prior to the drafting of the Agreement in the amount of $1,000.00 and this flat fee includes revisions to the Agreement. The second flat fee of $1,000.00 is paid at the last appointment when the Joint Petition, R-408 form and Affidavit(s) have been prepared, you come in to sign every document and each party leaves with a set of copies.
Will the Mediator do everything for me?
No. You are each responsible for completing and filing with the Court: a Court Form Financial Statement, and a certified copy of your marriage certificate. In addition, if you have children under the age of 18, you are each required to separately attend an Approved Parenting Education Class, and file the original Certificate of Attendance with the Court. You can find the Court Form Financial Statements by clicking on the links below:
If you individually have gross annual income greater than $75,000.00:
If you individually have gross annual income less than $75,000.00:
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