Why Mediation?
The traditional legal process can make you and your partner enemies and cause costs to increase. But, by not hiring a lawyer, the likelihood of making mistakes and returning to court after a divorce is finalized also increases. In mediation, a neutral third party will guide you through all necessary decisions and documents you need to complete for a divorce or separation. You and your partner will meet together with the mediator to gather information, discuss options and create your own agreement. Therefore, by choosing mediation you can avoid becoming enemies, control costs, and prevent potential future returns to court.

What does Family Mediation Center provide?
Hansen&Hildebrand_SpaceMediationCenter_Web_03Family Mediation Center provides education and professional resources to assist you in making your own decisions. Mediation services include neutral lawyer-mediators, financial specialists, child/family specialists and other referrals as needed to navigate the court process and negotiate your agreement. Our mediators support an approach that allows the two of you to resolve family issues outside of the court system, thus eliminating the need for litigation and placing all divorce decisions in your hands.

JudgeWhat is the traditional court process?
Litigation is the traditional, court-based adversarial process for legal disputes. Lawyers are hired to advocate for each person’s positions.If no agreement is reached about children, you must participate in court-connected mediation and a Guardian ad Litem lawyer can be appointed for your children. If still no agreement, a formal trial occurs and a judge makes the final decisions about finances and children.

Do I need to hire a lawyer?
That is up to you. We encourage all parties to consult with a lawyer to obtain legal advice to fully understand your legal rights, options, and the consequences of decisions. We have a referral list of lawyers you may wish to individually consult with who understand and support the mediation process.

Can we represent ourselves?
Pro Se is the legal term for self-representation; it is also called the “kitchen table” approach. When you choose to represent yourself, you must make all legal and financial decisions and complete all legal documents on your own. Although our mediators do not represent you and cannot provide legal advice, they do provide education so you both make informed decisions. Family Mediation Center is a helpful resource for pro se individuals seeking education and assistance in resolving family issues outside the court process. This helps you avoid mistakes and reduces the likelihood of returning to court in the future.

When and how do I propose mediation?
You may suggest a joint consultation at Family Mediation Center to obtain information and understand process options and legal procedures before making a decision. It is also important to decide on a process options and get educated about the legal/financial/child impact of decisions before you start negotiating outcomes. You may choose to meet with a child or financial specialist before or after meeting with a legal mediator.

How long will the mediation process take?
It depends on your level of commitment, communication, and needs. The process ends when you reach an agreement on all issues, and the number of meetings is up to you.

GirlWhat do we need to decide about our children?
You need to decide joint or sole legal custody (major decision-making such as medical, educational and religious decisions) and placement (the schedule of time with each parent) and child support/expenses.

How do we create a parenting plan?iStock_000015726131Small_b
You will work directly with a child specialist to create a plan that works for both of you and your children. The child specialist will help you focus on the needs and interests of your children and draft a plan that addresses all important topics and reflects your agreements as parents.  There are two articles that do an excellent job of describing the effects on children.
“Putting Children First When A Marriage Comes Apart”
“Are You Staying Married Only For Your Children?”

What is child support?
Child support is monthly payments paid by one parent to another for the support of the children. There is a state formula for child support that you can choose to use or not. Child expenses, such as education and activities, must also be allocated.

What is maintenance and how will it be determined?
If divorcing, maintenance must be addressed. Maintenance, also called alimony, is monthly payments by one spouse to the other for the support of the spouse. There is no standard formula for determining maintenance; it is based upon a number of statutory factors. Two of the key factors are the length of the marriage and the difference in the income of the parties. Maintenance is awarded based upon support and fairness.

What is property division?
If divorcing, property division is allocation of all assets and debts. The starting point is an equal division of property with statutory exceptions for individually gifted and inherited property and other factors.

The decisions are up to you!