The Better Way to Divorce - and Possibly the ONLY Way During the COVID Caused Backlog
In addition to his more than twenty-four years experience with divorce mediation in Connecticut and as a family law attorney, Attorney Posmantier is a graduate of the 40-hour Mediation Certificate Program at the Quinnipiac Center on Dispute Resolution, which was named 15th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its 2023 Best Graduate School rankings. He has also completed the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals Interdisciplinary Introductory Collaborative Practice Training. Mr. Posmantier is also a certified and practicing Safe Conversations facilitator.
Providing services as a divorce and post-divorce mediator, and a Safe Conversations facilitator, Attorney Posmantier supports the resolution of difficult parenting and financial disputes in a compassionate setting. When serving as a mediator, Attorney Posmantier does not represent the interests of one party or the other. Rather, he guides the parties together to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution of their differences.
In order to maintain neutrality, if you are interested in hiring Attorney Posmantier as a mediator, it is strongly suggested that the initial contact with our firm be made simultaneously by both parties to the mediation – or, at the very least, by one party with the prior knowledge and approval of the other party.
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 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 towards 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 valuators and child specialists.
Refer spouses to independent review attorneys.
On rare occasion, 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Attorney Posmantier is trained in all three approaches, but prefers 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 divorce attorney such as Attorney Posmantier.
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 applies equally to both, so long as the information provided does not serve as leverage by one party against the other.
When requested or appropriate, Attorney Posmantier draws upon his more than twenty-five years of experience to educate 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 circumstance. This avoids relinquishing the decision making power to the courts and assuming adversarial parenting roles in the litigation process.
The divorce mediation is confidential and, generally speaking, cannot, without agreement, be used as evidence in court should litigation occur in the future.
Mediation helps avoid a long, drawn-out litigation process, significantly reducing the amount of stress during this time.
Legal fees can become very emotionally and financially costly. Mediation is virtually always SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than litigation.
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.
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.
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 is promptly refunded.
Third-party costs and fees, as well each spouse’s independent review attorneys are additional costs involved with mediation.
When might mediation not be a good option?
Mediation is usually not indicated 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.
Are you ready for divorce mediation?
Contact us to speak with Attorney Eric Posmantier to get started with divorce mediation in Connecticut or to find out whether divorce mediation is right for you. Attorney Eric Posmantier has offices in Greenwich, Connecticut and Ridgefield, Connecticut.