WHAT IS FAMILY OR DIVORCE MEDIATION?
Family mediation (also known as divorce mediation) is a process whereby a neutral party, a mediator, works with separating or divorcing couples to help them work through the many issues surrounding a separation or divorce. Such issues include custody, visitation, child support, alimony, spousal support, and property distribution. Individuals can work directly with a mediator whether they are represented by attorneys or not. If the individuals do not have attorneys, the mediator will prepare a document at the end of the mediation called the Memorandum of Understanding (the MOU) which can be filed with the court as a Consent Judgment in order to make the agreement final and binding. If the individuals are represented by lawyers, the lawyers will prepare a Consent Judgment at the end of the mediation to be filed with the court. At Mediation Training Company, a neutral and impartial mediator will work directly with both parties to create a mutually satisfactory agreement.
The family mediation training is designed so that registrants can receive one-half of the required hours of family mediation training (20 hours) online, with the remainder of the training (20 hours) being offered in a live setting in New Orleans that features lectures, interactive role plays, dynamic discussion, and demonstrations. After taking the online and live training sessions, registrants will have all the hours (40) needed to be qualified under La. Rev. Stat. § 9:334, the Louisiana child custody mediator qualifications statute.
Additionally, if mediators wish, they can simply purchase the 20 hours of Internet training.
BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
Mediation is often cheaper and quicker that litigation in court. While court litigation can take months or years to complete and cost thousands and thousands of dollars, family and divorce mediation is often quicker and can be completed in a matter of weeks or months and is much less expensive than litigation. After a family or divorce mediation, the document prepared by the mediator can be taken directly to court by the parties and filed with the court and become a lasting agreement.Agreements resulting from family mediation often produce less acrimony than does litigation and the agreements reached in mediation are usually longer lasting than those issued after a trial on the merits. Mediation is private and confidential with only the parties and the mediator knowing about the details of the mediation. When cases are tried in open court, the details of the dispute are open to the public. Privacy and confidentiality are the central themes of mediation where individuals work behind closed doors with the mediator to produce an agreement that fits the needs of the parties.
WHO ARE FAMILY AND DIVORCE MEDIATORS?
Family mediators are licensed attorneys, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family counselors, professional counselors, and clergy who have received 40 hours of mediation training under a professional training group such as Mediation Training Company. Once the licensed professional has received the requisite amount of training, the mediator is said to be “qualified” as a child custody, family, or divorce mediator. That qualified mediator can then conduct all types of family mediations, including handling child custody, visitation, property distribution, spousal support, and child support matters.
Most family mediators meet week-to-week with the parties for one or two hours at a time. After three or four sessions, most people are able to come to a complete agreement on all issues. More complex cases or cases with numerous issues may require additional sessions. Most mediators charge an hourly fee based on the actual number of hours spent in the mediation and for the time needed to draft the Memorandum of Understanding, the document that is sent to the parties and filed with the court as a Consent Judgment.Each party usually pays one-half of the mediator’s hourly fee which represents significant savings to the parties because in litigation, each party will usually pay the entire hourly fee of his or her attorney. And the initial fee (the retainer) required by an attorney can be thousands of dollars, with additional fees being required if the litigation lasts several months or years. The hourly fees of divorce mediators in Louisiana range from $150 per hour to $350 per hour (as of March 2014).