Simon Mediation - Dan Simon, M.A., J.D.


Dan Simon, M.A., J.D.

Mediation FAQs (for divorce – for other types of disputes, please call)

Isn’t safer and more prudent to work through the legal system?

No.  Here’s a film that covers some of the horrors of approaching a divorce legalistically. DivorceCorp the movie.

Don’t we need lawyers anyway?

No (though many lawyers will tell you otherwise). Many of my clients choose never to hire lawyers. These clients prefer to do the paperwork themselves or to hire an inexpensive paralegal service. In fact, in my experience, people who don’t hire lawyers are usually much happier with the process, the results, and each other than those who hire lawyers.

What types of cases are best for mediation?
Any case in which the parties have a glimmer of hope (or more) that they can work with each other. Even parties who generally distrust each other usually find mediation much more satisfactory than attorney-driven negotiation. If you think the other person is extremely unreasonable, then it’s more important than ever that you try to avoid getting into litigation with that person.  So even then, mediation is worth considering – and it doesn’t cost much to try.

How does the mediator deal with unreasonable people?
When one person thinks the other person is being unreasonable, the most helpful response is to allow both people to speak their mind thoroughly. Often when people experience being taken seriously, they’re able to calm down and listen to the other person’s perspective.

How does mediation work?
The mediator helps you and your spouse discuss any aspect of your divorce that you’re unsure about. Most often, the result is an agreement about all aspects of your divorce. Your mediator helps you discuss any differences constructively, increasing the chances that you’ll come up with satisfactory solutions.

Do both parties need to agree to mediation?
Yes. Mediation only works when both parties to the conflict agree to participate. But never assume that the other person won’t mediate. Many opportunities are lost because each person thinks the other one won’t mediate.

How much does mediation cost?
Mediation usually costs a fraction of what litigation or collaborative law cost. There’s no retainer fee. The fee is divided between the participants; and you only pay for the time spent in mediation sessions. Reduced fees are available for those with financial need.

Is mediation legally binding?
Yes. Judges are usually very happy to sign off on agreements reached in mediation. (It saves them the burden of making difficult, personal decisions that parties are often unhappy with). When the agreement has been formalized and signed by a judge, it’s as legally binding as any divorce can be. (In fact, it’s far more likely that a mediated agreement will be followed, because both parties understand the terms and have made a personal commitment to follow them).

What about the legal process?
Mediation deals with the most difficult aspect of the legal process, determining the terms of the divorce. Once you’ve reached an agreement, it’s a simple matter of paperwork to finalize the divorce. For that part of the process, parties either do-it-themselves, hire a paralegal service, or hire a lawyer or two lawyers for the limited purpose of handling the paperwork. We have a list of reasonably-priced professionals whom we recommend if you want help with the paperwork.

How long does mediation take?
For a divorce, the amount of time spent in mediation sessions ranges from 1 hour to about 12 hours. The average is a little over 4 hours. We usually conduct the mediation in 2-hour sessions, unless someone prefers otherwise. It’s up to you how long we wait between sessions. One week, two weeks, or longer or shorter, if you prefer.

Doesn’t the law provide clear answers about the terms of the divorce?
No. That’s a myth. The law allows you to argue for whatever you want. And no one knows what decision a judge will make. And if one of you doesn’t like the judge’s decision, you can continue to appeal or fight in other ways. The important questions are what you want, what your spouse wants, and what you want to do about differences between you and your spouse.

I heard mediation was just for parenting. What if we only have financial issues?
At Simon Mediation, we’ll help with anything you disagree about or are uncertain about. Many clients we work with have only financial issues. (You’re right that some county mediation programs only deal with parenting). People often disagree about how to divide up assets and debts. We’ll help you have a constructive conversation about your differences and we’ll support you in making your own decisions.

"I don't know if you have already heard from elsewhere or not, but (John) and I did reach a settlement. Thank you for all your help. I hope you continue to enjoy and be successful in your practice."
- Q.T.