Mari Frank, a family lawyer and mediator in Laguna, answers:
Wise couples recognize that mediating their divorce will save time and money, and maintain their privacy. Also, because this is a collaborative approach, an experienced mediator will help the parties to focus, deflect conflict, and work together to resolve issues fairly. For couples with children, the peaceful approach of mediation soothes the emotions and allows the parties to co-parent. But to be successful in mediation, the parties must commit to:
- Disclose all assets, debts and income without a subpoena
- Treat each other respectfully in session
- Fulfill their obligations as to ascertaining the real values of all assets and debts
- Be honest and forthright — knowing that the sessions are confidential
- Complete the tasks the mediator assigns to each party in a timely manner (e.g., obtain bank statements)
- Fulfill their fiduciary duty to maintain property and divulge all information about any business opportunities etc.
For the mediation to be successful, the mediator must commit to:
- Being neutral and respectful to both parties
- Providing legal education to the parties (codes and cases) and encourage the parties to review all agreements prior to signing with independent counsel
- Being knowledgeable about the issues of the case
- Setting forth reasonable tasks and following up to make sure the tasks are performed by both parties
- Serving as a guide for the parties and helping them to navigate the legal system without having to go to court
- Deflecting conflict between the parties so that they can focus on issues
- Help the parties to release the blame and guilt and move to forgiveness so that they can reach a fair settlement.