Divorce Mediators

An illustration of a couple having a conversation

"Let's use our mediator to help us talk to one another directly, instead of fighting against one another in a courtroom."

Learn More About Divorce Mediation

The Mediator

A "mediator"—without any further distinction or identification—may come from any one of several backgrounds and training.

The Mental Health Care Mediator

Most people are familiar with the mediator who is a social worker, a psychologist, or some other mental health care or behavioral professional. The focus and expertise of this type of mediator is in understanding the feelings and the behavior of the parties in conflict, and working with that knowledge to help the couple communicate. By assisting them in their communication skills, it is the hope that the couple will be able to work out an agreement on their divorce. Any agreement. The legal parameters or legal requirements of such a agreement are not within the scope of expertise of this kind of mediator.

Mediators who are not trained in the law or who are not licensed to practice law, are not qualified or legally permitted to draft the final document that will serve as the "Separation Agreement." [See the definition of a "Separation Agreement" to the right]; nor are they likely to know all the legal requirements for the content of that document. Usually, this type of mediator provides notes or an outline of what the agreement consists of, and has each spouse hire an attorney or an attorney-mediator to draft the final document.

Unfortunately, the notes or outlined agreements that are the products of this type of mediation will sometimes fail the legal-standard test when presented to a lawyer or to an attorney-mediator for drafting. All too often, these agreements are too incomplete or too flawed to form the basis of a full legal Separation Agreement, or contain provisions that are so contrary to public policy that the foundation of the agreement collapses. Couples who end up with such an agreement may be forced to start all over again with a professional with the legal background to direct them to a proper agreement.

The Attorney-Mediator 

An "attorney-mediator" has an entirely different focus from the mediator who is not a divorce lawyer. With an attorney-mediator, you are working towards the creation of a document called the “Separation Agreement.” Its creation is the ultimate goal of the mediation. It will govern all the terms of your divorce. It will be all encompassing, and in perfect legal form. It will not be in note or outline form. It will contain all the provisions required by law to be included in your Separation Agreement, and will reflect the agreement reached in negotiations between the two spouses that were guided in the attorney-mediator's office within parameters set by law and with knowledge of current policies being applied by judges in divorce trials. It will be detailed. Most importantly, it will be legal and fair to both spouses. And, because your mediator is a licensed attorney, the Separation Agreement can be written by your mediator, relieving you of the obligation to hire another professional for the drafting. 

It is the job of the attorney-mediator to facilitate an agreement that will withstand legal scrutiny, being careful not to let the couple wander off to a resolution that will later be deemed unacceptable by a judge. It is the job of the attorney-mediator to know all of the components that need to be addressed in every Separation Agreement, and to assure that each of those components has been discussed in mediation and resolved not only to the satisfaction of the couple, but in conformity with the law.

The Cost of Divorce with an Attorney-Mediator

The first question most people ask when investigating mediation is: "What will it cost?" The answer is: "Everybody's case is different, so it is not possible to predict." What is possible to predict, however, is that the cost will probably be much less than the cost of litigation would be for the same case.

Some things are known to impact the cost of mediation, and can be controlled by the spouses to avoid an unnecessary escalation in fees. 

  1. The more forthcoming, complete and proactive each person is in the production of financial information, the less expensive the process will be.
  2. The more each person can view the goal of mediation as the creation of an all encompassing fairness doctrine that works to both people's benefit, the less expensive the process will be.
  3. If there are children, a parenting plan can be designed more easily and cost effectively if each spouse keeps the focus on the needs of the children—and not on what the parent wants for himself or herself.

Some attorney-mediators charge a retainer—or an advance against upcoming fees—in order to start working on a divorce case. A "retainer" is a payment made by a client or clients from which the mediator can pay herself as her time is spent on behalf of the client(s) that paid it. The practice of charging a retainer is even more common among divorce litigators, as discussed elsewhere in this website.

Amounts charged for retainers vary from professional to professional, depending on the locality, the practice in the geographic area, the nature and complexity of the case, and the experience and background of the one setting the amount. In my practice, however, there is no retainer requested, and clients pay as they go for the services they request and receive.

Areas in Connecticut Serviced by The Firm

Serving New Haven County, including Woodbridge, Guilford, Madison, Cheshire, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Branford, Derby, East Haven, Hamden, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Naugatuck, North Branford, North Haven, East Haven, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Seymour, Southbury, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Wolcott, New Haven and the surrounding communities. Also serving Fairfield County, including Danbury, Easton, Westport, Weston, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Ridgefield, Redding, Newtown, New Fairfield, Sherman, Shelton, Trumbull, Brookfield, and Monroe.

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