Interviewer: How long does mediation generally take before an agreement can be reached?
Mediation Can Normally Last a Full Day
Gary: Typically, a day-long procedure. I know there are some half-day mediations, but when they say half-day mediations, they typically start about 9:30, and you’re talking about going till 2:00, 3:00 or something. So, it’s a lot longer than just half a day.
Once an Initial Agreement Is Reached by the Parties, the Rest of the Process Resolves at a Faster Pace
Full-day mediations start about 9:30 and they run until they get done, and, typically, that can be sometimes 9:00 at night or later. A large number of times it takes a long period of time for a mediator to get a breakthrough with a family law case, but once the parts start falling into place, it resolves pretty fast.
A Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) Is Drafted at the Conclusion of the Mediation
Then there’s the process of having to draft up an MSA, which is a Mediated Settlement Agreement. That is the end result of a mediation; a written agreement between the parties. It’s like a contract. They can’t break it. That’s filed with the court and made into a final order to the court.
Mediation Can Be a Much Faster Resolution Process during a Divorce
Interviewer: It’s, obviously, a little bit faster of a process even to do mediation, like you said earlier, instead of going all the way to trial and the appeals process.
Gary: Yes, that is correct. You can mediate at any time. It’s always nice to get it done. There are all kinds of companies right now advertising mediation services that are purely, basically, “Come through mediation before you do anything else.” You see that all over the Internet. They’re not on the wrong track. Those places are probably on the right track.
My question about that is when you’re dealing with family law, are people rational enough to actually recognize the value of that, because for the most part, they are so agitated when they get in here.
Because Divorce Triggers Intense Emotional Responses, It Can Be Difficult, at First, for Couples to See the Advantages of Mediation
I couldn’t talk any of these people into mediating. Maybe I can talk them out of going out and getting a gun and shooting the other side, but that’s about the best I can do. Where I’m at, I’m trying to talk them off the ledge. I’m not talking about mediating.
Interviewer: I would think with their state of mind of even reaching out to finding a divorce attorney, for instance, I imagine they’re probably not in their right mind. The mediators are probably the last things they’re looking at until they’ve gone out and contacted you, and, so you said, talked them off the ledge.
Gary: If you get on the internet and you’re looking up this topic, something has driven you there. Most of the time, you have gotten mad at the other spouse, and you are thinking, “I got to get out of this marriage.”
Now, some people, they don’t hate the other person. They just figured out, “This isn’t working. We should not spend a lot of money on attorneys, because they might have already done this once before, they know all the costs. But I would say that’s a very small percentage of people.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “We all live lives of quiet desperation.” Well, that’s what most people are living out there, and when this happens, it isn’t so quiet. They live lives of really loud desperation.
Interviewer: It finally boils over.
A Couple without Children and Are Relatively Amicable about the Marriage Dissolution Can Benefit from the Mediation Process
Gary: Yes, it’s boiled over into this crisis period, and they’re in a crisis mode. The other type of client is people that have a very, very simple situation and there’s nothing to fight over, there’s no kids and no property. Two young people that got married, they’re living in an apartment together, and they’ve both got jobs and they’ve figured out, “This isn’t going to work. Let’s get out before we have a family.”
Those people are in a good shape, but if they need any mediation, they probably don’t need a day-long conference. Whatever they need to work out, they could clearly work out with mediation. They don’t need lawyers.
The Majority of Attorney Warren’s Clients are Having Child Custody Disputes
Most of the people I deal with are fighting over children. They’re coming in here, and mediation is, I think, the last thing on their mind. They know that mediation is not going to get their child back. All they want is their children.
Interviewer: Are there any negative aspects to mediation that your clients would want to be aware of? What is the downside to mediation?