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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
by Joe Dillon, Mediator and Cheryl Dillon, Divorce Coach of Equitable Mediation Services


Do I need a lawyer during mediation?
No. It's a common misconception that you need to hire a lawyer for divorce.

The fact is there is no legal requirement that you involve attorneys at any point in your divorce. Not even for the filing.

And since our mediation process is comprehensive, many clients choose not to involve attorneys. However, there are some people who may feel the need to have a single meeting with an attorney and others who may feel the need to speak to one throughout the mediation process.

If for your own peace of mind, you'd like to get a lawyer's perspective on a particular issue, we can provide the names of lawyers who are supportive of the mediation process.

In addition, during your initial meeting with us, we'll explain all of your options so that you can make the right decision for you.

Do you have to be a lawyer in order to be a mediator?
No. Some attorneys feel that attending law school provides them the skills they need in order to practice mediation. But mediation is a skill unto itself. While a lawyer may have a grasp of the laws, they may or may not know how to be an effective mediator. They also may not have the financial acumen required to resolve the many complex financial issues surrounding divorce.

Divorce is more about finances than about laws. In fact, three out of four issues that need to be resolved in a divorce are financial in nature.

You are much better off choosing a divorce mediator with a financial background than an attorney mediator without one.

How long does the mediation process take?
On average, the mediation process takes two to three months from start to finish.

Some of that time is spent gathering documents and submitting them to the mediator, some is spent negotiating the issues and some is spent drafting paperwork.

The good news is the length of the mediation process is entirely within your control.

How much does mediation cost?
The average cost of mediation is between $5,000 and $8,000.

At Equitable Mediation, we offer all-inclusive, flat-fee based mediation services to all of our divorce mediation clients. During the initial meeting, will know exactly what your mediation will cost - this removes the anxiety that is often associated with the spiraling costs of divorce.

The good news is even the most complex mediations still cost thousands less than an attorney-driven process such as a collaborative or litigated divorce.

Is Divorce Mediation Right For Us?
You and your spouse are good candidates for mediation if you meet the following criteria:
  • You are both willing to voluntarily attend and actively participate in mediation. If one of you wants to mediate and one of you does not, then sadly, mediation will not be an option for you.
  • You are both comfortable and interested in making your own decisions. You and your spouse acknowledge that you want to be in complete control of the decisions you make. Even though the mediator is an active participant in the process, he will not give you advice. Or tell you what to do.
  • You are both mentally capable of making your own decisions. You both must be of sound mind and have the mental capacity to make decisions. If either of you is mentally incapacitated in any way, mediation will not be an option.
  • There is no restraining order in place. As mediation requires the parties to communicate with each other in real-time, any order prohibiting you and your spouse from doing so will prevent you from mediating.
High conflict or low conflict, whether one of you controlled the finances or you both balanced the checkbook, kids or no kids, as long as you and your spouse meet the criteria listed above, you are good candidates for mediation.

What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a non-adversarial process led by a caring, neutral and skilled mediator that helps divorcing couples resolve all of the issues required to get a divorce.
There are four main issues and each range in complexity depending on the couple's situation. Those four main issues are:
  • Parenting plan and timesharing arrangements for co-parenting your children post-divorce.
  • Child support which is the financial support each of you will provide your children.
  • The equitable distribution of your marital assets and liabilities.
  • And how much and for how long you will pay or receive alimony (also known as spousal support or maintenance in some states).
As agreements are reached in all areas, the mediator will draft a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU for short) which will contain all of the tenants of your agreements made in session on all of the topics discussed and/or listed above.

At the end of the mediation process, the mediator will provide you with a final version of the MOU along with other relevant documentation needed for your divorce.

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