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The Ins & Outs of Family Law Mediation.

How do I prepare for Mediation?

How you prepare for mediation depends on whether you are entering mediation with lawyers being present or not. If the lawyers are going to be present for the mediation, they will frequently have a pre-mediation discussion with the Mediator and will prepare a brief of issues that you will review, and that the Mediator will be able to read in advance of the mediation.

Many Mediators will have individual meetings with each of the spouses in advance of the mediation. These intake meetings are generally confidential in that the Mediator does not refer to the issues discussed in the course of the mediation with the other party. This is an opportunity for you to make sure that you have alerted the mediator to all of the issues that are at stake up front. In advance of this meeting, you should make sure that you know what the issues are and what your positions are on each of them. You can also be candid during this meeting and tell the Mediator which issues are more important to you and on which issues you will be willing to compromise and make concessions.

Prior to attending the mediation, make sure that you have read the Mediation Agreement thoroughly. You should consider carefully whether the mediation is open or closed. In a closed mediation, discussions about what occurs will not be disclosed in the event that you fail to reach a settlement. Most mediations in family law are closed.

Make sure that you are well rested and not distracted during the course of the mediation. If you need to make child care arrangements, make sure that you do so. It is common for mediations to last an entire day and past the end of school. You will want to make after school arrangements for your children.

How should I conduct myself during the mediation?

The most important way that you should conduct yourself during a mediation to listen. You should listen to what the mediator says, what the lawyers say, and what your spouse says. Try to be creative and imaginative in thinking for solutions based upon the issues as your spouse identifies them. Do not be positional. Instead, be prepared to make reasonable concessions and make them early in the day. This will help you be more likely to reach a final settlement.

Do not mediate in bad faith. That is, if you do not intend to settle out of court, you should not enter the mediation process. To do so, simply escalates costs for everyone and it is not in anyone’s best interests or the best interest of the children.

How much does mediation cost?

Mediators generally charge an hourly rate and require a retainer up front. The retainer is usually shared equally by the parties. Often the retainer will be equal to the cost of a full day of mediation. The Mediator may also charge administrative charges for staff charges during the mediation process.

The hourly rate of the Mediator will depend on the Mediator’s experience and qualifications. Generally speaking, a Mediator will cost $300.00 or more per hour. There are some court associated mediation services that have a sliding scale for mediation.

The length of the mediation will affect the cost. Being prepared for the mediation by having all of the issues organized up front and relevant disclosure completed will be expeditious and therefore cost effective.

The length of the mediation will depend on the following factors:
(1) the time spent on your behalf;
(2) the complexity of the issues;
(3) your potential emotional and monetary exposure;
(4) the degree of resistance encountered;
(5) the extent to which any work needs to be performed on an emergency basis; and
(6) the result accomplished.