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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
by Marion Lee Wasserman, Esquire of Reach Accord Law and Mediation Services


How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
In divorce mediation, the couple sits down together in a cooperative spirit instead of attempting to one-up each other in an adversarial contest. To their great benefit, the couple reduces the cost and bitterness of divorce. Following mediation ground-rules agreed upon at the outset, the couple uses the mediation process to reach agreement on issues requiring resolution for their divorce. The mediator does not judge the couple or act as a therapist. The mediator encourages the couple to engage in balanced, forward-looking negotiation and to achieve compromise that is fair and practical. An experienced, qualified mediator knows what issues need to be covered in the couple's written agreement and guides each couple accordingly.

Should the parties to a divorce mediation keep talking between sessions?
Participants in the divorce mediation process often wonder ... should they keep the discussion of issues going between sessions ... or is it advisable to call a halt to outside discussion? The answer is: it depends. Most often, the parties to the mediation are well-guided by their own instincts in this area. Parties uncertain about the wisdom of outside communication, or the limits to set, will find guidelines evolving as the mediation proceeds, and, in any event, can raise the subject in mediation. If the parties want to communicate constructively between sessions, their mediator will encourage them to go ahead and try. But for divorcing couples with an especially difficult relationship, the mediator may discourage outside discussion of the issues -- between some sessions, at least.

What is "marital mediation"?
Mediation is sometimes entered into by a married couple with the express intention of reducing conflict in their marriage. This type of mediation is often referred to as "marital mediation." Marital mediation is different from psychological counseling and is not a substitute for counseling. Marital mediation, like other mediation, has a practical, agreement-oriented and detail-oriented focus. In marital mediation, once a couple identifies specific areas of conflict to work on, they can use the mediation process to find points of agreement and negotiate conflict-reducing resolutions. Throughout the process of marital mediation, the couple will be developing and practicing cooperative, respectful, constructive ways of communicating and reaching accord

Will the Mediator Answer Financial Questions?
Although the mediator is not acting as an accountant or financial advisor, the mediator should be knowledgeable about tax and financial issues that arise in connection with divorce. Ms. Wasserman has the knowledge and experience to answer many questions in these areas and also provide appropriate referrals to other professionals, as specific issues arise that require outside expertise. Such professionals may include accountants, business or real estate appraisers, pension actuaries or financial advisors. One advantage of the mediation process is that the couple uses outside professionals on a limited, as-needed basis, in order to gain specific information or advice contributing to positive negotiation -- a major departure from the costly, inefficient use of professionals as adversarial experts in traditional divorce contests.

Will the Mediator Really Be Neutral?
Whoever the mediating parties are - whether a divorcing couple, siblings with an estate conflict or family members dissolving a business - each party to the mediation will have an opportunity to explain his or her individual perspective. It is part of mediator's role to allow time for this, to listen attentively to each party and to help the parties listen to each other. The mediator should have training on the subject of neutrality, including gender neutrality, and knows how essential it not to judge the parties or choose sides. The mediator should appreciate the emotional and financial complexities of your situation and will use the mediation process to gain an understanding based on real issues, not surface impressions.


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