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Fairfield County Divorce Mediator

Marriages seldom deteriorate in a day. We know that coming to the decision to end your marriage was not easy and was riddled with emotional turmoil. Unfortunately, filing for divorce is often the first step in a long and adversarial process that can be a drain on both your emotions and finances at a time when you can least afford to spare either. Moreover, the impact of divorce on other family members, such as minor and adult children, is an important consideration. You’ve been through enough; there has to be a better way for you, your spouse, and your children to move forward without the added stress of litigation in the Connecticut courts – and there is: divorce mediation. The Law Offices of Eric R. Posmantier, LLC provides compassionate and skilled mediation services in both Ridgefield and Greenwich, Connecticut, serving all nearby Fairfield County towns. Contact a seasoned Fairfield County divorce mediator from our legal team today.

Divorce Mediator | Representing Clients throughout Connecticut

Divorce mediation is an alternative to litigation, which brings together the two parties in conflict with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator to help facilitate a resolution. Working as a team, you and your spouse make the final decisions regarding the division of assets and liabilities, child custody, parenting time (visitation), alimony, and child support. This generally results in a saving of time, emotion, and money.

Divorce mediation is one of several alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, which can be used to resolve a divorce. Mediation is a powerful and, statistically speaking, normally successful process, no matter how difficult or complex the matter. It provides couples with an alternative to traditional litigation and allows them to work together to create their divorce agreements.

Mediation is sometimes defined as a voluntary process whereby a trained mediator assists divorcing couples in reaching mutually acceptable agreements. The mediator helps facilitate communication, identifies common interests, and guides the couple toward resolving their issues outside of court.

What does the divorce mediator do?

In divorce mediation, the mediator’s main role is to assist in maintaining communication between spouses, as well as the environment necessary to develop a mutually agreed upon divorce (or post-divorce) agreement that can be submitted to the court. A divorce mediator may be an attorney, but when undertaking the mediation role s/he may not provide legal counsel or representation. This is because the mediator must maintain complete neutrality. So, if s/he can’t provide legal counsel, what can a divorce mediator do?

  • Provide a safe and positive environment for discussions to take place.
  • Offer general information about the legal system and process.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of options that are available.
  • Guide the conversation to a mutually beneficial outcome.
  • Develop a tailored divorce agreement to submit to family court.
  • Refer spouses to third-party services, such as property appraisers, accountants, business evaluators, and child specialists.
  • Refer spouses to independent review attorneys.
  • On rare occasions, and only upon the agreement of both parties, the mediator can provide a recommendation to help break an impasse.
  • Finalize court papers: In Connecticut, if a mediator is also an attorney, s/he can assist in filing all the court paperwork. This includes beginning the legal action, preparing financial disclosures, child support guidelines, and the final agreement.

Are there different types of mediation?

Yes, there are three main types of mediation commonly used to resolve conflicts:

  • Facilitative Mediation: Facilitative mediation focuses on facilitating communication and negotiation between the parties involved in a dispute. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator who helps guide the conversation, encourages understanding, and assists the parties in finding mutually acceptable solutions. The mediator does not provide opinions or make decisions but rather empowers the parties to reach their own agreements. This type of mediation is often used in various contexts, including family disputes, community conflicts, and workplace issues.
  • Evaluative Mediation: Evaluative mediation takes a more evaluative and directive approach. In this type of mediation, the mediator is authorized to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position and offer an evaluation or opinion on the likely outcome if the dispute were to proceed to litigation. The mediator may use legal knowledge and expertise to provide guidance and propose settlement options. Evaluative mediation is often employed in commercial disputes, legal cases, and situations where the parties seek a clearer understanding of their legal positions.
  • Transformative Mediation: Transformative mediation aims to empower and transform the parties involved in a conflict by focusing on the quality of the relationship between them. The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication, encourage active listening, and foster understanding and empathy. The process aims to address the underlying emotional and relational dynamics, allowing the parties to not only resolve their immediate dispute but also transform their relationship moving forward. Transformative mediation is often used in interpersonal conflicts, workplace disputes, and situations where the preservation or improvement of relationships is a primary goal.

It is important to note that these types of mediation are not mutually exclusive, and mediators may employ techniques from different approaches based on the specific circumstances and needs of the parties involved. The choice of mediation style depends on the nature of the conflict, the desired outcomes, and the preferences of the parties involved.

Our attorneys are trained in all three approaches, but prefer to rely mostly upon a combination of transformative and facilitative mediation. This is because evaluative mediation can be mistaken as providing legal advice, which should be avoided by anyone serving as a neutral, even an experienced Connecticut divorce lawyer.

How long does the mediation process take?

As a general rule, divorce mediation is faster and less costly than proceeding with litigation. The exact length will depend on the complexity of the issues involved, as well as the dynamics between the parties. On average, mediations occur over a series of two and eight sessions, spread out over three to six months.

Does a divorce mediator provide legal advice?

It depends on what is meant by the word “advice”. It is a conflict of interest for attorneys to legally represent both sides of a dispute. That means qualified attorneys can inform participants regarding aspects of the law that apply equally to both, so long as the information provided does not serve as leverage by one party against the other.

When requested or appropriate, our firm educates educates parties about what the law requires or states on a variety of divorce-related topics. However, the information is always provided in a neutral manner, and without suggesting opinions about what a judge might do with a particular set of facts.

Do participants need attorneys?

We always urge you to have your own review counsel (or “divorce coach”) with whom you can consult throughout the process and before signing any agreement. The consulting attorney is usually a relatively small additional expense, requiring only a limited amount of billable time.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Reduced impact on children: When working as a team through the mediation process, spouses are encouraged to devise parenting plans that work for the family’s best needs and circumstances. This avoids relinquishing the decision-making power to the courts and assuming adversarial parenting roles in the litigation process.

Complete Privacy: The stress of divorce seldom brings out the best in people, and when dueling attorneys are fueling the proverbial fire through the adversarial process, few consider the impact a lengthy, public divorce can have on their privacy, reputation, and career. The divorce mediation is confidential and, generally speaking, cannot, without agreement, be used as evidence in court should litigation occur in the future.

Reduced Stress: The stress of divorce seldom brings out the best in people, and when dueling attorneys are fueling the proverbial fire through the adversarial process, few consider the impact a lengthy, public divorce can have on their privacy, reputation, and career. Mediation helps avoid a long, drawn-out litigation process, significantly reducing the amount of stress during this time.

Less Expensive: After a lengthy divorce, the only “winners” tend to be the parties’ attorneys. There is a tremendous amount of waste in the litigation process. For example, the time spent waiting for a judge, or even traveling to or from the courthouse, is billable. As such, legal fees can surpass tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a family. A divorce mediator, especially a neutral attorney who understands the complexities of Connecticut family law practice, typically charges somewhat less than what a single divorce attorney would cost, and his or her fees are generally split between the parties in some manner. A professional mediation by a Connecticut family law attorney should cost each party far less than a contested divorce, while providing you with the same level of knowledge and quality of service as that offered by the top adversarial divorce attorneys in Connecticut. Further, when divorce mediation services are provided by a qualified Connecticut divorce or family law attorney as opposed to a non-attorney mediator, it can help you avoid the common pitfalls of the Connecticut divorce process.

Collaborative Control: Have you ever brought your car in for a simple oil change and been told that some unknown part needed to be replaced or fixed? Maybe you felt powerless in the moment? Worse, maybe you felt that you were being hoodwinked because you simply had no idea what was being advised. If you didn’t change the catalytic converter for $1000, would your car still be safe? What if the service person was lying to you to “pad” her own pockets? Now, imagine that feeling multiplied tenfold. That is what it can feel like entering the divorce litigation process. In litigation, the lawyer advises you (often in a “foreign” legal language) and then you have to guess whether to trust the advice. In contrast, when mediating, YOU are in control of the process, not the lawyer. However, with the help of a mediator, spouses can directly communicate and take each other’s needs into account, reducing the conflict-driven process and coming together to make the final decisions on the divorce agreement.

Expediting the Healing Process: Divorce, and other family disputes, can be amongst the most emotionally painful experiences in one’s life. The impact on the children involved in these matters is especially well-known. Mediation usually expedites the ability to move on to a healing process for all.

Less Time: Litigation can be time-consuming, especially with the limited number of judges available to hear cases on any given day. Avoiding litigation can also reduce the time spent on future disagreements, and debating ambiguities, because mediated decisions are mutually agreed upon.

Flexibility: While courtroom hours are limited, unreliable, and add unnecessary stress to an already stressful process, divorce mediation sessions can be scheduled to accommodate your professional and familial needs while providing you with a comfortable and compassionate environment.

How much does mediation cost?

Mediation is almost always less expensive than litigation. The exact costs will vary depending on the complexities of the case, but normally a retainer between $3,500 and $7,500 is requested to begin the process, against which the actual time spent is billed monthly. Except in rare circumstances, which are carefully discussed and documented in advance, any retainer funds left over at the end of the mediation process are promptly refunded.

Third-party costs and fees, as well as each spouse’s independent review attorneys, are additional costs involved with mediation.

Is Mediation Right for You?

Not every divorce is well suited for mediation. For example, if you have suffered from physical abuse and need special protection from the courts, or are fearful of physical injury being inflicted by a spouse, then mediation with an attorney-mediator is probably not right for you.

A mediator in our Ridgefield, Connecticut divorce mediation office can analyze the specific facts of your case to determine whether mediation would likely be in the best interest of all parties.

When might mediation not be a good option?

Mediation is usually not recommended in the following circumstances:

  • Serious physical, emotional, or financial abuse exists, such that a party seriously fears backlash from a stated position in the mediation room.
  • Mental health issues interfering with rational thought.

A common concern: “Mediation sounds good to me, but I’m still scared not to be represented by a divorce attorney.”

This is a healthy and justified fear. Remember, mediators do not represent either party’s interest. Mediators are merely facilitators. Therefore, oftentimes, parties elect to mediate their disputes and also have a separate attorney help him or her behind the scenes. This is called “review counsel” (or sometimes a “divorce coach”). Using this approach balances the best of both worlds: You are educated and advised throughout the divorce process by your own counsel, while at the same time avoiding the horror that is a contested divorce litigation process. The cost of this balanced approach is still a fraction of traditional divorce litigation.

Contact a Connecticut Divorce Mediator Today

Contact us to get started with divorce mediation in Connecticut or to find out whether divorce mediation is right for you. Our firm has offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Ridgefield, Connecticut, but often serves divorcing parties throughout the state using video conferencing. 

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