What does a divorce mediator do?
A mediator is a neutral professional. With expertise in an area of conflict (such as
experience in divorce and the courts), a creative mediator can help a divorcing couple
imagine solutions and options that largely meet both their interests and especially the
best interests of their child or children. Another of the hallmarks of mediation is its
respectful and confidential approach.
How does the process actually begin?
After speaking with both parties briefly regarding the process itself, a first session is
scheduled. Larry generally works with both parties together around a round table, and as
almost all mediators do, schedules sessions for two hour blocks of time. (The parties are
not charged for this full period, of course, if the session concludes early.) This amount
of time working together is generally optimal, as it allows the parties sufficient
opportunity to address and surmount obstacles that could not be resolved in shorter
periods. Longer sessions are generally not advised, because of fatigue.
Larry has sometimes been called the John Madden of mediators since he often
uses a large flip chart (with colored markers), and after the parties have determined
which issues require their attention first, options are considered and agreements are
recorded as they are reached. Larry dictates notes after each session as well, to record
the details of the parties agreements to facilitate his drafting the
Agreement in written form for the parties consideration.
How do we determine more complex issues?
During the process of mediation, additional information may be gathered, and the parties
may even agree to hire a neutral consultant to assist their work in mediation with issues
requiring special expertise, such as the value of a home or property, a business or a
retirement plan. (The parties can agree in advance that this persons opinion will be
used only in mediation, with the further benefit of confidentiality and usually reduced
costs.) Of course, many parties are able to discuss and agree on such matters in
mediation, without any outside assistance.
Additional sessions are scheduled until all issues required by the Courts have been
addressed by the parties.
What are the benefits to mediating a divorce?
If you have ever played the game of passing a message around a circle of friends, you know
that communicating through third parties often results in distortion of the message. Many
couples are astonished to learn in mediation that their spouse's viewpoint is not at all
as it was represented to them and understood by others, even by their own lawyer's office.
In divorce mediation with both parties present, intent and meaning can be clarified
immediately before misunderstandings compromise a couples efforts to resolve issues.
Minimizing Inefficiency and Cost.
Obviously, a great deal of time and money may be lost in communicating through third
parties as well. (Imagine the following: a message from you to your attorney's secretary
is forwarded to his or her paralegal and then to your attorney. The attorney speaks with
your spouse's attorney's staff, then to your spouse's attorney, then to your spouse. A
reply is relayed in the same loop only in reverse!) This can expend a lot of time and
effort and unnecessarily escalate costs. Mediation can permit accelerated discussions and
Why does mediation work?
Mediation is simply a powerful process. Accomplished mediators are able to focus on the
real concerns of spouses and parents (their interests) and not merely their
view of what is required to protect themselves and/or their children (their
positions). Mediation works because the parties can directly hear the other
parties' concerns and with the assistance of the neutral mediator, accommodate each
other's concerns without unnecessarily compromising their own interests. Freed from the
role of acting as an advocate for a single party (the ethical obligation of an attorney),
a mediator can envision options that neither party (or their counsel) imagined!
Thus, our commitment: "Visions for A Cooperative Divorce".
Can mediation assist divorced parents address changing circumstances?
Absolutely. Parents and children's needs change. Larry frequently assists couples (many of
whom are new to mediation and did not use mediation in their divorce) to
"tune-up" or reconsider parenting or support agreements that once made a great
deal of sense, but later require changes to reflect new circumstances.
What is co-mediation?
Co-mediation is where the parties choose to also use a second mediator, generally of
complementary gender and professional background.
Upon request, Larry most often works with Elaine O'Reilly, MS, LPC. Ms. O'Reilly is a highly respected psychotherapist with expertise in children
and divorce-related issues and a Practitioner Member of the Academy of Family Mediators.
With co-mediation, a skilled law and mental health background and male/female balance is
provided the parties.
Elaine and Larry have co-mediated high conflict cases and conducted dispute resolution
didnt waste our time. He got to the heart of the issues and was clear about what our
options were. His use of a chart pad helped us both see and agree on the data we were
using. When we got stuck on an issue, he helped us "clear the smoke" by
acknowledging our feelings and then moved us towards a decision by using a business mind
set instead of an emotional mind set.
costs were fair and probably less than the usual, due to the fact that we were
willing to come to agreement without going strictly through lawyers. We were able to be
open to both of our needs and wants. The relationship we have as a result is friendlier,
because were working for a common goal our kids.
think mediation is quicker and definitely less expensive than using a lawyer. Once we
began and despite our conflicts, I always had total faith and confidence in Larry that he
could get things back on track. Mediation made the whole divorce process easier. I was
very pleased with the whole mediation process.
comparison with the litigation process, my mediation process was a walk in the park! It
presented an even playing field where someone was actually working for our best
interests as well as the best interest of our son.