Understanding Different Types Of Mediation

In our work at Dwyer, Donovan & Reis, our attorneys see various types of mediation processes. Here is a guide to some of the most common types of mediation and how they work. 

“Kitchen table negotiation”

This refers to parties who are able to sit together and come to agreements on their cases without the assistance of a neutral third party.
In these cases there are still often attorneys involved on some level. Some clients will meet with us before they talk to the other party to get information on their rights and the process itself. They may or may not tell their spouse that they have even met with us. This education often helps people feel more confident about the decisions they have they make. In other cases, attorneys will be brought in once the agreement has been reached.

Our firm can help you by taking the agreements you have made and generating the proper legal documents to be filed with the court. Many couples would like to be able to meet with an attorney together to do this, but unfortunately this is not something we can do. When we draft documents, we may only officially represent one party in the case. The normal procedure is for one party to meet with us and lay out the agreement that has been reached. We will then draft the documents and provide them to you for review. Both parties will review the documents to ensure that the terms reflect their understanding of the agreement. Once the documents are approved, we can then help by ensuring that all your paperwork for the court is complete and accurate.

Mediation With A Neutral Mediator

For a majority of parties, communication issues and emotions make it hard to be able to sit down and work through all the decisions and choices required in these cases. For them, the use of a neutral mediator is crucial to being able to resolve their case out of court. The mediator’s job is to walk the parties step-by- step through all the decisions that need to be made and to help them come to a fair and equitable agreement. What is fair and equitable is different in every case and it is not the mediator’s job to make any decisions in the case. It is simply to help the couple make those choices for themselves. Mediation is about the parties deciding for themselves how to make these transitions.
When the parties decide to utilize mediation, many still find it useful to hire an attorney to assist in the process. For some couples, prior to beginning mediation, they will each meet with an attorney on their own so as to be educated about their procedural rights and to receive legal advice on certain issues of concern. This information helps them feel comfortable in making choices during mediation. Still others will hire an attorney to review the agreements they have reached in mediation before signing. Depending on who the parties use as a mediator, an attorney may be needed to draft the documents. (See our unbundled services page for more information.)

Mediation With Counsel

Mediation with counsel can be an effective and efficient way to resolve more complicated cases. When parenting issues or finances are complex, the presence of attorneys during mediation allows for the provision of legal advice “in the moment,” which often reduces unnecessary delays. In such cases, both parties hire their own attorneys to represent them in the mediation process. The attorneys attend mediation with their clients and assist in drafting the final documents. The attorneys help the parties gather the right information and can assist in choosing a mediator with the expertise needed to help them resolve their case. Attorneys can also help the parties hire outside professionals or experts if needed to help the parties be able to make informed decisions.

Mediation With Counsel And Neutral Financial Planner

For many parties, the consequences of and choices around how to handle their finances after the divorce is a stressful and fear-laden issue. There may be concerns about retirement or college costs, or there may just be general concern regarding how to afford two households instead of one. The use of a financial neutral can help the parties determine how to maximize their finances for the benefits of both. The financial neutral will work with the couple to determine their financial goals and then help them find the best way to achieve them. The participation of a financial neutral in mediation can help the parties play out the different options and scenarios to determine how each course of action will impact both of their financial futures. This approach has helped many couples be able to feel more secure in their asset division and has helped both of them feel more confident in what the future will look like moving ahead.

Court-Ordered Mediation

In most cases, after the parties have filed their case in court, the judge will order the parties to attend mediation to see if they can resolve all, or even parts, of their case. In court-ordered mediation, the court assigns a mediator along with a date and time for mediation. The court will also make an order as to how the fees for mediation will be paid between the parties. Payment for mediation is due at the time of mediation so it is important to bring a check or cash with you to pay the mediator.

These sessions commonly take place at the court house and are normally scheduled for two hour blocks. You can attend this mediation with or without counsel. Many clients find it helpful to have a lawyer involved in this process either to attend mediation with them, or to counsel them before mediation begins. If you are able to reach an agreement, it is also advisable to have an attorney review the agreement before you sign it.

Have A Mediation Question? Let Us Be Your Legal Guide.

You can learn more about the various types of mediation and how they can help you resolve divorce-related and other conflicts. Call our offices in Portsmouth at  or use our online contact form to set up an appointment.