1. How is a divorce mediator different from a divorce attorney? A distinct aspect of mediation versus litigation is that the mediator is neutral and does not support or oppose a client’s position on the issues. A divorce attorney acts as your legal advocate, informs you about the law and advises only you (and not your spouse) about what is in your best interests (which may be the opposite of what is in your spouse’s best interest).
2. How can a divorce mediator be helpful if she is not acting in my best interest? I know some people are skeptical when they start the mediation process on how this will work. But it does; just read the reviews from past clients. Having a third-party present, who is neutral, points the discussions about the issues of your divorce in a whole new direction. Clients are comfortable making decisions, hearing how other clients have addressed an issue (like what are we doing with our house) and moving forward towards their new futures. The mediator does not allow them to have the same fight over and over again but redirects the conversation towards resolutions.
3. How much is this going to cost? Mediation is a ginormous savings versus litigation. You pay one mediator, as opposed to two attorneys, a lower hourly fee. No retainer is required. You pay for the time that you use as you use it. Our clients spend about $2,500-$3,500 per divorce in mediation. That’s total, not per person.
4. How long will this take? I too have heard the horror stories about it taking years and years to get divorced. In mediation it takes between four and six meetings in total. Meetings last one hour. Meetings are scheduled are your convenience. So, you could be done in six weeks or stretch it out if you so desire.
5. Do I need still need a lawyer if we agreed on everything in mediation? The short answer is no, but the real answer is it is up to you. Legally, you are not required to have an attorney to get divorced. You can represent yourself in court. It is called being pro se. At Westfield Mediation, we recommend that you use a divorce attorney in a more limited role, called a review attorney. This review attorney will fill out all the paperwork for court, accompany you to court, advise you of your legal rights and answer any legal questions you may have. While it is not legally required to have an attorney, we think it is best practice to do so.
These are just the top five most frequently asked questions. Contemplating divorce brings up a lot of questions and you probably have more. You are welcome to reach out to Westfield Mediation to discuss them. Please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.