Frequently asked Questions
What does the mediator do?
The mediator is a neutral third-party who facilitates discussion around key issues to help resolve a conflict. To that end, the mediator structures the process by:
- assisting parties in identifying all relevant issues (e.g., parenting plan, financial support, taxes, etc.,)
- encouraging the sharing of information - so parties base their decisions on sufficient information and knowledge
- providing practical, financial and legal information related to divorce (e.g., NY law on child support) Legal advice is not offered.
- promoting shared understanding - so parties are in a position to find common ground on solutions
- sharing options that have worked for others in similar situations
- drafting a settlement agreement
Do you represent both of us?
No. Though I am an attorney, I do not represent either, or both parties while we mediate the terms of your separation agreement. However, if we mediate to a resolution and draft an agreement, you (only one of you) may retain me to file the divorce papers. I will represent the 'Plaintiff' (initiating party) in the 'divorce action.' (Even though you worked together to bring the relationship to a close, New York State does still require one party to be named 'Plaintiff' and the other 'Defendant.') The 'Defendant' must waive the conflict of interest
How much will it cost?
I charge $200 per hour with a sliding scale based on client need and my availability. Depending on the complexity of issues, the process will range from 3-6 sessions. I charge a flat-fee of $750 for drafting the agreement, and $500 for filing the divorce papers.
Can I bring my lawyer?
Yes, if you feel the need to have an advocate in the room with you. There is no right or wrong way, although it is more common to meet without attorneys in the room (and often more productive). You may wish to consult with an attorney between session. I always recommend to have the agreement reviewed by your separate attorneys before signing.
What if we are always arguing?
The process can be rewarding for divorcing couples who are still communicating, but can also benefit some of the most disagreeable couples. The minimum requirements for the parties in a mediation are: being able to assert their own view (willingness to disagree) and to understand the other's view (willingness to agree) As this process of staying open and honest unfolds, the mediator works to understand both by acting as a container of both perspectives, and reflecting what s/he perceives is holding the conflict in place.
What if my spouse is Not being entirely forthcoming with finances?
For a mutually satisfactory agreement, having the right information is an essential ingredient for a fair result in mediation. Common exchanges include: tax returns, corporate documents, financial statements, outstanding debts, account balances etc., If the concern persists, you may choose to complete and attest to a formal statement of net worth or financial affidavit.
Why not just meet with you separately?
The process relies on transparency and clear understanding of the reality that each of you faces. Generally speaking, holding separate meetings (caucuses) are at odds with maintaining openness and compromise the mediator's capacity to stay neutral.
Paradoxically, working together during the separation process helps create the life each of you want post divorce/separation. For most, there are quite a few things that need sorting out---and it takes courage to express needs and concerns on issues that could stir conflict even before the separation, let alone a now. The same goes for finding the willingness to listen. And this kind of structured discussion is exactly what is needed. Whether through collaborative, mediation, or traditional kitchen-table bargaining, it is possible to own your contributions to the conflict and at the same time plan for and focus on the future. Working together may present an opportunity - however bitter - to forge a new, healthier path in relating to your ex/co-parent, children, and to yourself.