Mediation is a calm, civil, private — and usually less expensive — way to work out a divorce or separation agreement.
Michael Becker is a trained and extremely experienced mediator who helps you to work out a fair and enforceable legal agreement. You make your agreement based on full disclosure, in a private, safe, and confidential setting without any pressure.
Most important, in mediation you work out a customized agreement which reflects your needs and values. And your agreement can cover all issues or just a few. It’s your choice.
Compare mediation to working with attorneys through court litigation, where you’re bound by court rules and procedures. In mediation, those rules and procedures can be relaxed to better suit your needs. So you can tell your story, be heard and make your agreements, your way.
Your mediation is complete when you’re comfortable with your whole agreement. Michael will never force a settlement on you.
Mediation is a calm, civil, private — and usually less expensive — way to work out agreements. In mediation, you have the chance to make customized agreements that reflect your unique needs and values, based on full disclosure, in a private, safe, and confidential setting — without any pressure. And in mediation, courtroom procedure can be relaxed so you can tell your story, and make your agreements, your way.
Mediation typically has three steps, which you can move through at whatever pace best suits you.
- Step One: The mediator should first learn about you — what your concerns are, any goals you have for the process, as well as any ground rules you wish for both of you to observe while you are in mediation. This is where the mediator should simply listen to you. The mediator should also learn about your children, if you have children: things like each child’s academic, social and developmental level and progress. Finally, the mediator should help you identify and gather the legal and financial documents and other information you’ll need, so later on you’ll be prepared to make choices that best fit you.
- Step Two: Next, the mediator should help you identify the specific topics that you’ll need to resolve, and set the course to resolve them, one at a time — in a structured and safe setting — and at whatever pace best suits you. If the mediator is also an attorney, this is when — if he or she is willing to do so — the mediator can help you understand the law and what a court might do in situations like yours, providing you with guidance for resolving each topic. And if your mediator is also a mental health professional, he or she will likely have the skills and tools to help you keep things calm, be heard, and reach agreements.
- Step Three: Last, once you are comfortable with all aspects of your agreement, the necessary legal documents are drafted and filed with the court. If your mediator is also an attorney, he or she can take care of most of this for you, if you choose, which is typical in this area. Or you can do this yourself, or have someone else do this if you prefer. And once a Judge approves your agreement, it is official and legally binding, just as in court-litigated cases.
There are lots of reasons so many people choose mediation. First, in mediation, you get to keep control of the key decisions affecting your family, money and life, rather than surrendering them to lawyers or a court. Second, you aren’t set up as enemies against each other, but instead as two people with some problems to resolve. Third, mediation allows you to avoid prolonged, and often expensive, court proceedings. Fourth, unlike public court, what happens in the mediation room is usually confidential and private. Fifth, an experienced mediator should be able to keep things fair, and not allow undue pressure, strong-arming or coercive tactics. And sixth and finally, mediation is often less expensive.
Yes, once approved by a Judge. When you have agreement on all points, an attorney can draft your legal agreement, as well as the related court documents. If your mediator is also an attorney, he or she can usually take care of this step for you, which is typical in this area. And in Connecticut, once a Judge approves your agreement and related documents, it is typically as official, legally binding, and enforceable as it would be in litigation. It’s typically this last step that makes your agreement an enforceable court order.
It’s typically not required, so it’s usually your choice. Ask any mediator you are considering working with if he or she requires this (I don’t, and instead let clients choose whether or not they need them). If your mediator is also an attorney, he or she can help both of you understand the law, what a court might do in situations like yours, and draft your legal agreement and related court documents. If you like, you can also have an outside attorney of your own coach/advice you individually, read through and provide you with individual feedback on the legal documents before you sign them, draft your legal agreement and related court documents, or work with you in any other way you find helpful. For clients who wish to work with outside professionals, I typically offer referrals so they can find someone best suited to meet their needs.
- How many divorce mediations have you done? Over what time period have you done them?
- What percentage of your practice is dedicated to divorce mediation?
- Why did you become a mediator?
- What formal mediation/dispute resolution training have you received, besides a basic 40-hour introductory workshop?
- Do you typically offer clients the option of your going to court with them to present their agreement to a Judge, or do you typically require them to go alone? Why?
- What mediation/dispute resolution professional associations do you belong to? Are you a general member (lowest level of experience) or a practitioner/advanced member (highest level of experience)?
- Are you an ‘evaluative’ mediator, who will offer us information on the law, what a court might do in situations like ours, and help us with possible solutions, or are you a ‘facilitative’ mediator, who typically will not offer this evaluative information? Why?
- What is your specific theory/approach on how to best resolve disputes? How did you develop this?
- If we get stuck, what would your approach be?
- What does your typical mediation process entail? How do you typically organize the process and what are the specific steps in your process?
- How many meetings might it take if our case is very short and straightforward, and how many meetings might it take if things are more complicated? What specifically, in your opinion, causes a mediation to be shorter or longer and how did you learn this?
- What is your profession of origin (law, mental health, finance, other)?
- Do you typically require clients to hire professionals in addition to yourself in mediation, such as outside attorneys, financial professionals, and parenting coordinators, or do you let clients choose whether or not they need them? How did you come to this?
- Do you offer a consultation meeting free of charge before we start mediation so that we can meet you, ask questions of you, be in your mediation room, and understand how you work?
Also, it’s really important to use a mediator with whom you both feel comfortable, since mediation is such a personal service. This is sometimes called the ‘click.’ You can usually find this out during a consultation meeting, before the mediation itself begins.
“Mediation is a less expensive, less explosive approach to divorce than court”
– USA Today
To download a copy of my Mediation FAQs, click the button below.