What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where two or more parties come together to resolve a dispute with the help of an impartial third party – the mediator. The mediator does not make the decisions – the parties do! Thus, you control your outcome, not a judge. The mediator is responsible for structuring the discussion so that all issues are addressed in a fair and constructive manner. Think of a mediator as a master negotiator whose sole job is to recognize and utilize different communication and negotiation tools to assist parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. A mediator may meet with the parties together, which is called a joint session, or separately, which is called a private session.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation?

Mediation provides the parties with control over the outcome of their dispute. It also can allow for the resolution of your matter to remain private. Finally, mediation is very cost effective. Mediation, however, is not appropriate for everyone. For those who are not able to negotiate on their own behalf and are confused by the subject matter, mediation may not be the appropriate process to resolve the dispute.

Is Mediation Binding?

Mediation can be binding when the final settlement agreement is reduced to writing and signed by the parties. Parties can also choose a non-binding form of mediation by indicating the expectation of non-binding mediation in the final settlement agreement.

Is Mediation Cost Effective?

Yes! Generally, parties can reduce their overall costs by two-thirds! And, studies show that mediated agreements are followed approximately 85% of the time versus only 55% of the time for judge-rendered decisions. Therefore, parties who choose to mediate not only save a lot of money, they ensure the highest level of satisfaction and therefore follow through, with the agreement!

Additionally, should outside experts be necessary during the mediation, the parties agree to use one set of experts rather than two sets of experts used in a traditional divorce process. By limiting one person, the mediator, to negotiating the terms of the divorce and hiring outside assistance as needed, parties spend FAR less in mediation than hiring two sets of attorneys and two sets of experts!

Who Should Not Mediate?

In order to be successful in mediation, both parties need to have the ability to make decisions together. If parties lack the ability to make mutually agreeable decisions, not only will mediation fail, but the parties will have spent a lot of money without any resolution to the problem. Additionally, parties who cannot be truthful or trustworthy are not successful in mediation.

How Can I Get a Divorce Through Mediation?

First, the mediator assists the parties in negotiating all issues pertaining to the divorce including: asset allocation, debt allocation, spousal support, custody, parenting time, and child support. Then, upon reaching settlement on all issues, the mediator drafts a Mediation Settlement Agreement, which is called an MSA. At this time, the parties are encouraged to seek independent legal advise to review and advise each party regarding the terms of the MSA. Upon each party agreeing to the final terms of the MSA, the mediator files all documents necessary to legally effectuate your divorce. Because you are using one person to negotiate the terms your divorce, and are only using individual attorneys to advise you regarding your rights and obligations under the MSA, you are saving the cost of a traditional divorce!

How Do I Make an Appointment?

First, both parties must agree to use Mediation Northwest to mediate their divorce. We require both parties to contact us individually so we may have a brief conversation about each party’s perspective of the issues involved in divorce. Then, if both parties agree to use Mediation Northwest, an appointment is set to mediate. Generally, a two-hour appointment is scheduled, but parties only pay for time they actually use. So, if you only mediate for 30 minutes, you only pay for 30 minutes.

How Is My Attorney Involved?

Mediation Northwest encourages its clients to seek independent legal advice at any stage of the mediation process. Furthermore, independent legal advice is most helpful before the first mediation session and after receiving the first draft of the Mediation Settlement Agreement. Parties best negotiate for their needs when provided with specific information regarding their rights under Oregon law – an attorney, and not a mediator, can provide that advice. Parties are encouraged to ask their attorney about the asset and debt division, spousal support, health insurance, custody, parenting time, and child support.