Frequently Asked Questions
What is mediation?
Mediation is simply the practice of a neutral expert guiding two or more parties toward an agreement.
Unlike litigation, mediation allows for creative solutions. It is built on the premise that good communication is the best way to resolve conflicts. We create an environment that allows parties to discuss all the issues and reach terms that satisfy and benefit everyone, even in high conflict situations.
How does the mediation process work?
Prospective clients can learn about mediation at a complimentary consultation. It is an opportunity to hear how the process works, ask questions and discuss goals. The parties will be able to review the mediation agreement. Clients can choose to sign the agreement at the initial meeting or take some time to decide if mediation is right for them.
Once the process begins, the parties meet with the mediator for a series of sessions, each generally lasting between 90 minutes and two hours – although that is flexible, based on the client’s needs. The number of sessions varies with each case.
At the first mediation session, the parties identify the issues they want to settle, along with their goals on each matter. The mediator gets the parties talking and offers creative solutions when needed. There’s no chance important details will be overlooked: We make sure the sides exchange documentation and other information critical to making decisions.
Mediation often reveals that the parties have the same goals and just need to formalize the details in an agreement.
The parties can bring the finalized agreement to an attorney, who can convert it into a legal contract. You won’t have to shop around: We can refer you to attorneys who are experienced in handling mediated agreements.
Can everyone mediate?
Most often, yes. But mediation is not possible in cases that involve a court-issued restraining order.
What is the role of the mediator?
Quite simply, a mediator’s role is to help disputing parties work together to make their own decisions. Mediators remain neutral – there is no taking sides and no coercion. We listen closely, gauging each side’s concerns and interests. Once we get a good handle on everyone’s point of view, we can get the conversation going. In short, the mediator helps lay the groundwork for an agreement by creating a climate of cooperation.
What is the role of the law in mediation?
Mediation might take place outside a courtroom, but the law provides a framework for the entire process. In fact, more courts are requiring couples and other parties to go through mediation in an attempt to avoid litigation.
When the parties agree to terms, an attorney can review the agreement to ensure it will be the basis of an enforceable contract. Mediation allows you the freedom to craft a completely customized agreement within the boundaries of the law.
How much will mediation cost?
Our mediation services are based on an hourly fee. There is no retainer fee and services are “pay as you go.” Payment is due before each session by credit card, cash or check. Mediation typically saves clients at least 40 percent of what they would pay to litigate. In divorce, most often the entire process will cost less than attorney retainer fees.
Where are the sessions held?
Advanced Mediation Solutions is conveniently located in Haddonfield, NJ, with an additional office in Princeton NJ and an office in New York coming soon. We also offer virtual mediation, which can be conducted from anywhere in the world as long as the parties have a stable internet or phone connection.
Our main office in Haddonfield is located at: 89 N Haddon Avenue, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Our Princeton office is located at: 103 Carnegie Center, Princeton, NJ, 08540
What is divorce mediation?
Since divorce mediation is a collaborative process, both parties must be willing to participate. Divorce mediation enables spouses to work through all the difficult issues with the direction of an unbiased intermediary. And the process provides plenty of support to allow couples to come up with their own solutions. Everything will be thoroughly explained, which ensures that the participants get exactly what they need out of the agreement.
Mediation will help the parties settle on parenting plans, spousal support, child support, division of assets and more. The process will also address the future needs of the children, such as education and cars.
Mediation is not really about the divorce: It is about creating a stable, secure future for both spouses and any children involved. Together, we take a realistic look at the family finances, including monthly and annual budgets, debt and marital assets. The goals are to fairly divide assets, position each spouse to meet financial obligations, and avoid financial squabbles down the road.
Spouses with children enter mediation with specific concerns. You will work out a parenting arrangement that addresses how children are raised, when they spend time with each of you, and how they will be supported financially. With all that out of the way, you can focus on being Mom and Dad.
Is divorce mediation right for us?
Yes, if you want to avoid a contentious court battle and negotiate the terms of your separation or divorce in a timely, cost-effective manner. Mediation is attractive on several fronts. Couples – not judges and lawyers – negotiate and personalize the terms of their settlement. The mediator keeps negotiations focused and productive. And since most people mediate without attorneys, couples avoid sky-high legal fees.
Remember: A courtroom setting is both austere and intimidating — not a great environment for crafting a creative agreement. Through mediation, both sides can discuss their goals creatively, without the ominous glare of courtroom lights. Courts also operate on their own schedule, not yours. Mediation sessions are arranged at your convenience, not the court’s.
Both sides must be able to talk freely to offer their points of view and understand all the information that is circulating. The mediator serves as a conductor so both sides know exactly what they are negotiating.
What about high-conflict situations?
Mediation is especially helpful in high-conflict situations. When emotions are running on overdrive, sound decisions often don’t follow. Squabbling parties could find themselves in pitched court battles, rife with animosity and exorbitant legal fees. The goal is to get on with your life. A mediator is a neutral third party, skilled at getting constructive and focused conversations started. It makes no sense to allow your conflict to get in the way of an agreement, and it is a cancer when children are involved. Without mediation, a high-conflict situation is bound to escalate and become even more toxic for family relationships.
Do we need to hire divorce attorneys?
Mediation is an alternative to litigation, so divorce attorneys are not required. However, clients are free to retain attorneys for legal advice, just as they might work with other professionals such as financial advisers or therapists. And at the end of the process, clients may go to an attorney, who can formalize the agreement.
Do we need to decide everything before we start divorce mediation?
Absolutely not! In fact, it is often more beneficial if some of your issues are not yet settled. The reason is that, oftentimes, you “don’t know what you don’t know.” In my experience as a mediator, I have run across countless issues that may not fit neatly into a “one size fits all” resolution.
For example, your circumstances may require a more customized parenting plan than those that are suggested by the court. You may also need a creative solution to resolve certain financial issues, such as real estate ownership and family-owned businesses. By leaving some of these issues to decide during mediation, you may open up a world of possibilities that you did not even know existed.
How long is the divorce mediation process?
This depends on the flexibility of you and your spouse, the complexity of your case and other specific circumstances. That said, the average divorce mediation takes 3-6 sessions and 2-3 months to complete. More complex cases can take 3 to 6 months (or longer).
What if I don’t know everything about our finances?
That is perfectly fine! Many couples enter into divorce mediation without a totally clear view of their financial picture. During the mediation process, all issues and information is laid out on the table, including your finances.
What if we have more complicated issues to settle with our divorce?
You are in the right place! At AMS, our experienced mediator can enlist in-house experts (when necessary) to handle specific issues that may arise during your divorce. We provide professional guidance with highly specialized legal matters, giving our clients the skilled assistance needed to settle high net worth and otherwise complex divorces, all under one roof.
What types of financial issues can you help us mediate?
We have in-depth knowledge of the most complicated financial matters that may come up during a divorce. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Ownership and value calculations for family-owned and closely held businesses
- Real estate holdings including business, residential, vacation or otherwise
- Complex business arrangements such as stock options, deferred compensation, and partnerships
- Retirement assets including pensions, 401Ks, IRAs, and other retirement plans
- Complicated investments such as stocks, bonds, trusts, and international investments
- Unique assets such as jewelry, art collections, and classic automobiles
- Tax planning to minimize divorce tax consequences
- Specialized guidance for franchise business owners and investors
How much can we save by choosing divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation has been known to save couples thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. It can also shave off several months (or years) of time from the process and save you untold amounts of emotional stress. How much each couple saves depends on their specific circumstances. In general, the more complicated your situation, the more money you can potentially save using divorce mediation. For example, couples with significant assets have been known to spend upwards of six figures or more through traditional divorce litigation. Mediation will cost you only a fraction of that amount.
Are there any other advantages to mediation besides the cost and time savings?
Absolutely! As previously mentioned, mediation gives you the opportunity to settle your divorce amicably, and it is impossible to put a price tag on the preservation of important family relationships. Aside from that, mediation gives divorcing spouses more control over the process and more flexibility to customize solutions that work best for them. Finally, unlike divorce litigation, the entire process is kept confidential, and everything discussed during mediation sessions is private and will never become part of the public court records.
Business and Workplace Mediation
What types of business and workplace issues can be mediated?
Virtually anything that is not dealing with illegal activity in the workplace can be mediated if the parties are willing to participate. At AMS, we regularly handle issues such as partnership disputes, disputes among co-workers, employee-employer disputes, and multi-party disputes. We also help parties negotiate partnership and operating agreements.
Why should I take my dispute to mediation rather than pursuing the matter in court?
In some cases, you may be bound by contract to go to mediation as a first step to resolve a dispute. That aside, it is always beneficial to forego the time and expense of a lengthy court battle whenever possible. Mediation gives you the opportunity to settle the dispute more quickly and at a fraction of the cost. After mediation has been tried, if you and the other party are still at an impasse, you can always explore other legal avenues to obtain appropriate relief.
What if I can’t stand to be in the same room with my partner, boss, or co-worker?
Even if you are not comfortable sitting face-to-face, mediation can still work for you. An effective approach for this type of situation is caucusing. With caucusing, the parties are in separate rooms, and the mediator goes back and forth to discuss the issues with each side individually. This allows parties to vent their feelings and frustrations without alienating the other party, giving the two sides a better chance to come up with an agreement.
Is my company legally required to have an operating agreement?
This depends on the type of entity you formed and the state you are located in. Most states do not legally require operating agreements, but even if you are not required to have one, it is still highly recommended if you have at least one other business partner. An operating agreement can address important issues ahead of time such as ownership, contribution of each owner, distribution of the profits, decision-making, dispute resolution, and much more.
Do I need an attorney for an operating agreement?
During mediation, we help clients navigate the components of the operating agreement. Business owner/partners may choose to bring in attorneys at any point in the mediation process. Once all the issues have been settled upon between the parties, an attorney may be needed to turn it into legally enforceable agreement.
What types of organizations do you do business and workplace mediation for?
We work with organizations of all types and sizes. We have several decades of experience in the corporate world, and we’ve specialized and excelled in negotiating highly complex contracts and agreements. We work with municipalities, schools, school districts, non-profits, private companies, professional partnerships, franchises, and any other type of entity.
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Serving New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania
89 N Haddon Avenue
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
103 Carnegie Center
Princeton, NJ 08540