1. How do I find a mediator? There are several ways to find a mediator. Talk to people you know. More than likely you will find that others have been through it and perhaps used a mediator they can refer you to. The internet has many websites and resources to direct you to lists of mediators- www.mediate.com, www.divorcesource.com, and www.NJAPM.com.
2. How do I find the "right" mediator? You may get a few names of mediators and are wondering who would be best to work with. I advise you to contact them all. Mediators come in all shapes and sizes, with varying backgrounds centered on law, finance, or the mental health profession. Each mediator has his or her own slant and way of doing things. An initial phone conversation, along with a free consultation, if offered, should give you good exposure to how they operate.
3. How does the process work? Both parties will meet with the mediator, ideally together, and start to discuss and go through the steps of negotiating the different terms of your agreement. The first session will center on explaining mediation, going through the Agreement to Mediate and highlighting the major issues. The following sessions will involve discussing your unique situation-the parenting plan, equitable distribution, alimony and child support. Once final agreements are made, they will be compiled into a Memorandum of Understanding for you.
4. Do I need a lawyer also? Mediators cannot give legal advice, even if that mediator is a lawyer. I always advise my clients to use a separate review attorney during this process. They can offer legal advice throughout the process and/or ultimately be hired at the end to review the Memorandum of Understanding. The attorney will turn the MOU into the Property Settlement Agreement given to the court.
5. How many sessions can I expect and how long will they be? The number of sessions depends on the complexity of your situation. Five to eight sessions is a typical range with each session lasting 1-1.5 hours.
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