At Kirner & Boldt Co., L.P.A., Peter S. Kirner provides mediation services for parties who want to amicably bring their marriage to an end or to address post-decree matters, but wish to do so on their own, rather than have an attorney doing it for them. In a divorce, the parties are not front and center and play the proverbial “telephone game.” See below:
Party → Attorney → ← Attorney ← Party
In mediation, the parties are at the center of attention and the center of their own negotiations. Both parties are free to have an attorney during the mediation process. As a matter of fact, it is recommended, or at a bare minimum it is suggested, that you retain counsel simply for the purpose of reviewing the prepared documents. See below:
Attorney → Party → Mediator ← Party ← Attorney
You are free to bring another person or your attorney to a mediation session, however, it is strongly recommended that you do not. This is your agreement, and you need to be able to reach an agreement that you are willing to accept.
A mediator is a neutral party and acts mostly like a referee to help the parties come to an agreement. Mediators do not make decisions and cannot give legal advice. Mediators only help the parties reach an agreement by providing alternatives and options. Mediators can give legal information and some perspective on what the court may do, if this matter is not resolved.
In general, the court does not care what agreement you reach. They care that both parties have made a full disclosure of all of your income assets and liabilities and that the division of debts and assets is fair, just and equitable.
A mediator will prepare a mediated agreement, and then the parties can use an attorney or proceed to court on their own to finalize the termination of their marriage by way of dissolution of marriage.
Mediation is a “warmer and fuzzier,” gentler approach to terminating your marriage or post-decree matters. It is a very favorable alternative to a divorce. It is usually cheaper, and as set forth above, it keeps the power and control of the agreement in the parties’ hands.
Mediation can be done while both parties are in the same room, or the mediator can separate the parties (sometimes called caucusing) and speak separately with the parties.
Mediation is confidential. If an agreement is not reached, then the mediator cannot disclose what was discussed, or be forced to testify at trial.