Going through a divorce or facing a major conflict is confusing.  The following FAQs are intended to provide some information to help you through this confusing time.  This is not intended to be legal advice or guidance.  If you need legal support, please contact your local Bar Association for a list of attorneys.  If you don't find the answer you need, please feel free to contact Sara Bensman for a free 15 minute consultation.

[My ex-husband] and I finally are in motion on our divorce, and it feels really healthy… We were able to have a whole 7 hour session of mediation, just him and I, hashing out the details like in your office. You really gave us the tools that we needed to handle it on our own. Those 7 hours alone would have cost us thousands of dollars with a lawyer (which he was definitely wanting before that day) and afterwards we both walked away content and agreeable. What a gift. Thank you!
— Jo, former client

Does mediation work?

Many people involved in a dispute believe that mediation is a nice idea for someone else, but couldn’t possibly work in their situation because the other person is crazy or the circumstances are too difficult.  But the fact is that mediation works the vast majority of times.  It resolves disputes far quicker, cheaper, and more finally than litigation. 

  • Mediation works because when people feel safe, they are able to communicate again.
  • Mediation works because it demands that disputants focus on their real interests, not just their stated positions.
  • Mediation works because it’s forward focused and doesn’t dwell in what could have or should have happened.
  • Mediation works because a neutral facilitator makes sure that the conversation is balanced and that both parties are listening.
  • Mediation works because the people involved in a dispute know best how to solve it. 

Where does mediation fit in the divorce process?

When a couple decides to divorce, there is a legal process they must follow.  Basically it requires that they legally separate, one person files a Complaint (or petition), that is served to the other party, an agreement is reached either outside the court (through mediation, collaborative law, or negotiated by attorneys), or the judge determines the outcome and it is filed.  If an agreement is reached through attorneys or the judge, there is likely to be some discovery process in which the attorneys gather information about the opposing party. 

If the couple chooses to use mediation, they develop the agreements themselves.  This includes the division of assets and liabilities and the parenting plan if they have children.  There is no discovery, because mediation operates on the assumption that both parties share information.  

Once a couple has developed an agreement in mediation, they still will want to have a lawyer review it and file the petition.  

Should the mediator be a lawyer?

A lawyer cannot represent two opposing parties and can't represent one party and serve as a neutral mediator.  While it's useful for a mediator to have a working knowledge of divorce, separation and family systems, it's most important to find mediator who has a collaborative approach to decision making, who has ample experience mediating, and who you are comfortable working with.

How much does mediation cost?

The cost of mediation with Sara Bensman is $140 per hour.  It typically takes 2-8 hours of mediation time plus an additional hour of administrative time to write up the agreements.  

How do I get the other person to participate?

Mediation is mutually beneficial.  Both parties are likely to save money and improve their situation.  Your ex may not want to participate simply because you’re suggesting it.  Allow the mediator to explain why it’s a good idea and what s/he has to gain from participating.  Send an email such as this: 

“I know we’d both like to get our divorce settled as easily and inexpensively as possible.  I think we should try mediation.  Check out the website of a mediator I found and give her a call.  www.sarabensman.com.  Let’s try to set something up.”