How does mediation work?
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a professional mediator can help parties discuss and explore interests, needs, goals and solutions to resolve conflcit. The mediator and parties meet in a conference room for two hour sessions. The mediator may meet privately with each party where they can confidentially explore options. However, most of the sessions involve both parties and the mediator meeting together, listening, clarifying, defining and exploring needs and goals while working toward equitable agreements.
The Mediator does not make decisions for you. However, by using a collaborative, future oriented approach, a mediator can help facilitate solutions that may not have been possible otherwise.
How long will mediation take?
Since each client and each settlement is unique, there is no clear answer to this question. Some issues can usually be settled in one or two sessions. For divorce, the minimum number of two hour sessions needed is three. Most divorcing couples use 5-10 sessions. The following factors will effect how many two hour sessions you will need to reach an acceptable agreement:
- your ability to deal with each others' differences
- complexity of financial situation (assets/debts) and children's issues
- amount of agreement and disagreement on issues
- ability to speak for yourself about what you want
- ability and willingness to collect necessary financial information
How often are sessions scheduled?
This is entirely up to you. Sessions could be scheduled once a week, once a month, or a few during one month and then one several months later. The scheduling is flexible enough to fit your specific needs, but frequent enough to accomplish your goal of reaching a settlement.
Will I need an attorney?
Many clients find a legal consultation provides a useful perspective on their situation, but, having a lawyer is not required to obtain a divorce in the state of New Hampshire. If you have an attorney you can consult with the attorney during the course of mediation. Some parties have their attoneys review their final agreements before signing them. You always retain the right to seek legal advice, regardless of the issues being mediated.
Who will be my mediator?
Susan L. Howard, Esq. is the Mediator at The Mediation Center of Peterborough. Susan is a Family Law Attorney. She began her law career in 1981 as a State and Federal Prosecutor. For more than 20 years she has been in private practice concentrating in divorce and family law, both as a mediator and an attorney.
Does a mediator make a decision regarding my divorce?
No. A mediator's job is to facilitate an agreement by helping the parties explore the options and develop their own solutions. Certain issues must be resolved between the parties before an agreement can be filed with the court. Those issues usually include when each parent will be with the children and how to divide income, expenses, assets and debt. Once the parties reach and sign an agreement, the mediator will help you complete the proper documents that must be filed with the court in order to obtain a divorce or seperation.
How is mediation different from litigation?
In medation the parties, with the help of the mediator, reach the terms of their divorce, for example how the parents will divide parenting time on a weekly basis.
In litigation, each party would present their position to a judge, either individually or through counsel and the judge could set the terms.
Can I use Susan Howard as a mediator and as my attorney?
No. Because there are two conflciting roles you must choose what role you would like Susan to play for you from the beginning.
If you want her to be your attorney, she will advocate for you. If you want her to be your mediator she will remain neutral and help both parties reach a resolution.
*Susan is also available as an attorney to coach you pre and post mediation and will review mediated agreements before they are signed.
I'd like to use mediation, what's next?
Call or e-mail us and we will arrange a phone conversation and/or an initial session with both parties at a mutually agreeable time.