Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Divorce Mediation Process in a Nutshell


Amherst Mediation Services
Divorce Mediation Process in a Nutshell

1. Initial Free Consultation:  The mediator and both parties will meet together for an initial free consultation. At this meeting, the mediator will explain the mediation process, discuss fees and cost of mediation, compare mediation with other options and answer questions that either party has about the process or about the mediator.
2. While there is no obligation to start the mediation process following the initial consult, we will set aside time that day so that if you want to start that day, you can. Typically, if the mediation starts that day, the mediator will spend between 30-60 minutes with you getting background information about your situation, basic financial information and information about where you are in the process of divorce or separating.  You will be sent home that day with some homework.

3. Following this initial meeting you will be asked to fill out the court financial statement as well as gather certain documents to make sure that we have all the information we need.
4. How many sessions are needed from that point forward and how quickly the process goes is largely in your control. The mediation can take as little as 1-2 more sessions or 5-6 sessions depending on how complicated your situation is and how well the two of you are able to discuss matters outside of the mediation room.
5. Once an agreement is reached and you have had a chance to review the agreement drafted by the mediator, we will have one final meeting in which we will go over the agreement, review the financial statements and court papers which will have been prepared in advance of the final meeting.
6. The mediator will not attend the court hearing with you but will prepare you for the hearing at the last meeting.  You will receive detailed instructions about filing the paperwork.
7. After the last meeting, it is up to you to follow through with filing the court papers, including your financial statements, agreement and filing documents.
8. If you have children, you will be required to enroll in a parent education class. This will be necessary before you can get a hearing on your divorce. The mediator will provide you with information about this.
9. It is generally recommended that you hand file your paperwork with the court, rather than mail. You do not both need to file the paperwork with the court. Only one of you needs to drop off the papers.  Your mediator will go over your paperwork at the final meeting. If the papers are not in order the clerk’s office will likely reject the filing so it is important to make sure the paperwork is correct and complete.
10. At the hearing, the judge will go over your agreement and financial statements with you and if everything goes well and as expected, the judge will approve your agreement that day.
11. If you filed a joint petition for divorce, the divorce will be final 120 days from when you went to court. You will not however have to go back to court at the end of the 120 days.
12. If you are transferring real estate or retirement accounts or any accounts, it is up to you to follow through with this. Your mediator will not be responsible for following up on these issues (this will be discussed at the final meeting).
13. This is a summary of the process.  During your mediation, the mediator will go into a lot more detail about all of these issues.