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What to Tell Your Divorce Mediator

Divorce mediation in Idaho has a high rate of success, even in difficult cases.  Divorce mediation is a unique process that is quite different from a family court trial.  You may be wondering what you should disclose to your divorce mediator.In short, the answer is, anything you like.

During mediation, your mediator will first obtain information so they can understand each of your positions in the case.  The mediator will then work with the parties to explore options that may potentially work for both parties, to settle each issue.  The mediator’s goal is to help the parties settle the case in a manner that both can find suitable.  Since the mediator has no decision-making power in the case, they do not weigh the evidence, consider what is admissible in court or advocate a position.  A mediator finds out what is important to each of you and discusses ways to address each concern.

During divorce mediation, any conversation you have with the mediator is kept private and confidential.  Although it is possible that you will discuss the case in the presence of your spouse, you may request to speak with the mediator privately at any time.  The mediator will not disclose any facts to your spouse without your permission.  Therefore, if you have certain concerns that you want addressed but do not want your spouse to know have been disclosed, you will simply ask the mediator to keep these points in mind as he or she helps mediate the case.

You may also have information that you want the mediator to know before you start mediation.Most mediators request or allow for a pre-meditation statement.  In this statement each party or the party’s attorney, may provide the mediator with a property list and who should get each item.  A debt list may also be disclosed listing each debt, the total amount owed, the monthly payment, and who should be responsible for each debt.  If children are involved, you may bring your children’s school calendars for the discussion of custody and visitation, and any other items that you feel are relevant to your case.  The mediator would also benefit from knowing how the two parties communicate with each other and whether there is animosity between them.

David Johnson is an attorney and divorce mediator located in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

How to Achieve a Successful Mediation

Successful Mediation

Mediation is generally not a step people take when everything is fine – there’s no such thing as “just-in-case” mediation.  Yet many people tend to think of mediation as one of two extremes: Either a magical fix-all that will instantly solve their problems, or as a perfunctory episode that has no chance of solving their problems.  Either attitude can guarantee that mediation fails as a strategy, but there’s another factor in mediation failure: A lack of preparation.

Mediation is like any other endeavor that we engage in: Its success is directly tied to the effort that both parties bring to it.  In order to give your mediation the best possible chance, you have to come into the experience prepared.

Mediation Preparation Step One: Be on the Same Side

When preparing for mediation, it’s absolutely essential that both parties enter into the mediation agreeing on at least one crucial point: That they want a solution and are willing to work for it.  If one party rejects mediation and is forced into it, it’s almost guaranteed to fail.

So, part of the essential work to be done prior to walking into the mediation room involves both parties committing to the process and entering into it in the spirit of cooperation.  This doesn’t mean you abandon your goals or grievances, but only that you sincerely see mediation as a way to resolve them.

Mediation Preparation Step One: Know What Mediation Is and Isn’t

The next essential part of preparing for mediation is to understand the mediation process, how it works, and what it can do.  Mediation involves a professional, trained neutral – your mediator – who will facilitate discussion and guide both parties to a mutually acceptable solution to their dispute.  A mediator has no authority to impose a solution and isn’t a judge hearing a case.  Their role is advisory, but they also have the skills and experience to intelligently suggest ideas, compromises, and other solutions that can help the discussion.  They usually also have considerable experience in the field in which the dispute occurs and can thus offer practical, workable advice on how to settle things.

Expecting to be able to “argue” your case and convince the mediator to “take your side” is the wrong attitude, and dooms you to fail.  Instead, understand that the mediator is a skilled guide who can help get you where you want to be, and your chances of success shoot up exponentially.

The Difference between Mediation and a Court Proceeding

Court ProceedingMany people outside the legal world are unfamiliar with what mediation is and what it entails.  It is substantially different from traditional litigation (i.e. going to court) and has an entirely different set of rules and procedures.  The main difference is that mediation is driven by the parties in a dispute.  This means that, unlike court proceedings that take place according to the schedule of a judge and the courts, mediation can be done at a time that is most convenient to all parties.  This means that the parties can even mediate before a case is filed.  Because mediation is driven by the parties, the process can change to fit the needs of the parties.

Another difference is that in court proceedings a third party, such as a judge or jury, decides the outcome of your case.  Mediation does use a third party (a mediator), however, that person does not decide what the outcome will be; rather the parties do.  The mediator is there to provide neutral and objective guidance to the parties to help them agree upon a settlement, not to decide the case and what they parties will do.

Mediation is much less formal than court proceedings.  Unlike court where attorneys are present and do the majority of the talking, in mediation the parties are negotiating .While attorneys can be present, it is not necessary, meaning that mediation can happen with the parties alone with the mediator.  Because of its informal nature, mediation can take place at a time that works best for the parties involved.

Unlike court proceedings, mediation is usually less involved.  When a dispute goes to trial, there is often an extensive discovery phase, meaning compiling documents and evidence, and taking depositions.  With mediation, the parties decide what documents are necessary to exchange so both parties are able to make informed decisions.  Mediation is not necessarily a one-time event.  The parties can participate in as many sessions as necessary to exchange documents, obtain appraisals, talk to other people or their attorneys, etc.  Because of the decreased amount of time spent on discovery, mediation can resolve a dispute in a much faster time frame than litigation.  This could result in a real cost savings to the parties.

Mediation is conducted confidentially.  With a Court proceeding, the “dirty laundry” is out in the open for others to see which can cause either party to feel ashamed, angry or defensive.  Mediation focuses on the present and future, not upon past actions.

David A. Johnson has been providing quality legal services in East Idaho. As both a private attorney and as a former Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Johnson has substantial courtroom experience. Mr. Johnson has handled cases all over the State of Idaho. His primary areas of practice are in Bonneville, Bingham, Butte, Jefferson, Madison, Fremont Bannock and Jefferson Counties. In addition, to Idaho Falls, we serve residences in the Blackfoot, Shelley, Firth, Rigby, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Ammon, Driggs and Victor, Idaho. [Read more..]