Frequently Asked Questions
I do not live in Ann Arbor or Howell. Can you still mediate my dispute?
Yes, we have successfully mediated cases from Texas, Minnesota and California. Some issues have geographic implications that need to be recognized as an issue and addressed but do not prohibit anyone from receiving services.
I'm divorcing. If I'm in facilitative mediation, do I need an attorney?
We recommend that you each have an attorney for three reasons.
- You will negotiate the divorce yourselves. It is important that you are an informed negotiator. Mediators can provide general legal information but cannot give legal advice. Attorneys provide valuable legal advice and information so that you will be an informed negotiator.
- The product of a mediation is a written binding agreement. We recommend that you have an attorney review it before you sign it. This assures that the agreement will do what you expect.
- The court system is a bureaucracy and frustrating to deal with if you do not know how it works. An attorney can handle the courts for you and eliminate hassles. When you are in mediation your attorney becomes an advisor and can be a resource throughout the process.
What if I'm the only one who wants to use mediation?
Mediation is, usually, voluntary, as most of our clients come to us before involving the courts. Once the courts become involved, judges often order it. Many people who begin mediation reluctantly are no longer reluctant once they understand how their concerns will be addressed.
What is the cost of facilitative mediation?
The Center charges for the time the mediator is working on your case including; the time they are meeting with you, substantial phone calls or e-mail communication of ten minutes or more, contacts with your attorney and consultants at your request, and preparing your agreement. The hourly fee compares with moderate attorney rates in the Ann Arbor/Howell area. The goal of the mediator is for you to take from the mediator (and other professionals) only what you need, thereby keeping the cost of resolving your dispute to a minimum.
The billable hours charged for facilitative mediation depends to a large part on how complicated your issues and how well you communicate. If your situation is uncomplicated and your communication is good, you will mostly be answering questions. You negotiated how to address the issues on your own and you are mostly explaining decisions you made to the mediator. The mediator will be making sure you cover everything and will keep track of your agreements so they can prepare a detailed written description of your agreements. The more complicated the issues, the more discussion is required. If your communication is poor, you will not be able to do much on your own. The meetings with the mediator will become a forum for communication and the mediator will be facilitating your negotiation.
Our typical range for meetings and hours is two to five joint meetings of 1 to 2 hours each. The time it takes to prepare a mediation agreement detailing your decisions is around 4 to 5 hours, depending on whether you have minor children, spread over three drafts. It usually takes three drafts to get to a final draft. The first draft takes the most time.
How many weeks does a facilitative mediation take?
There are several variables that effect how long mediation will take. You determine the frequency of mediation sessions. Divorce is stressful. Meetings to discuss divorce issues are stressful. For this reason, most people cannot tolerate meetings scheduled too closely together.
Meetings scheduled at every other week intervals is tolerated by most people. You will have homework between meetings. How long you anticipate it will take to prepare the homework will affect the scheduling of meetings. Court involvement creates deadlines, as the courts have requirements to move cases along. External time constraints create pressure, stress and cost. For this reason, we suggest involving the court after you have a signed agreement. Often, you will need a task completed by someone other than yourself, such as attorney review of an agreement. Attorney availability will impact the speed of completion.
It is, usually, possible to get to a signed agreement in 4 to 6 weeks. Although, 6 weeks to 6 months is typical when participants have no deadlines.