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DIVORCE MEDIATION

You have decided to end your marriage. It’s been the hardest decision you have ever had to make. Your relationship has deteriorated so that no matter how hard you try to put things right, it keeps falling off the tracks. You are suffering and want the pain to stop.

You also want to end your marriage with dignity and mutual respect. Maybe you’d like to remain friends and preserve the memory of what was good in your relationship. Or, just say goodbye without bitterness. If you have children – of any age – you want them to know that their parents’ love will never falter, but will endure forever.

You would like to look forward to a future in which you can realize the goals and dreams you had to put on hold during the marriage. The ones you thought you’d never reach. Through mediation, those goals can become a part of your divorce agreement, Even if communication has been poor between you, your mediator will help both of you learn new ways of expressing your ideas, your needs and your interests. By reducing hostility and encouraging non-defensive dialogue, mediation will help both of you find a new level of cooperation. And from that cooperation the best possible divorce agreement can become a reality.

And if you’d prefer not to spend a fortune slugging it out in court, consider the advantages of a mediated divorce

DIVORCE MEDIATION is designed to help you achieve those goals. The most important thing to remember about mediation is that you and your spouse will have ownership of the decision-making process. My job is to help you by

  • being your trusted, impartial guide on this crucial journey to the next stage of your lives;
  • encouraging you to pursue open, honest and transparent negotiations;
  • keeping you both focused on moving forward in resolving your divorce issues;
  • helping each of you to come as close as possible to achieving your life goals after the divorce;
  • supporting you in your efforts to remain effective co-parents beyond the divorce.

Here are some of the ways we will do that together:

  • The three of us will sit down together in my office. You will each have an uninterrupted time to say whatever is on your mind. We will meet in an emotionally safe environment where you will not be judged on anything you say.
  • I will be your impartial mediator. That means I will listen carefully to each of you with an open mind. I will also help you learn how to listen – really listen – to what the other is saying, so that you both can concentrate on solving your problems, not finding fault with each other’s solutions.
  • Mediation works best when each spouse cares about the other’s outcome.
  • I will not be acting as an attorney for either of you because my role, as I mentioned above, is to be your impartial mediator. My value to you both is only as good as your belief in my impartiality.
  • But, because I am a practicing attorney, I will use my expertise as an experienced family lawyer to help you avoid falling off a legal cliff as you negotiate your agreement.
  • If communications are difficult between you, I will teach you techniques to overcome that barrier, so that long after the mediation is over, you will have the tools to avoid needless future confrontation.
  • We will work together in assessing your finances. You will bring me a number of documents, such as tax returns, pay stubs, retirement account statements, property deeds, etc. You will also provide me with information about your bank accounts, investments, credit card debts, and other aspects of your lives that will play an important part in achieving a fair settlement.
  • After I have evaluated your financial situation, we will review those findings together. We will take a realistic look at the financial pie, and you will start the important work of dividing it fairly.
  • Our goal is to have you both leave the marriage in as good financial shape as possible. We will devise creative solutions in order to make that goal a reality. We will begin by creating options that address the issues. That process is also called Brainstorming. Put simply, you will each toss out ideas for discussion. At this stage, no criticism or comments are made. No judgments! Remember, you’re in a safe environment. Later, we will start discussing the options you just created. The wonderful thing about non-judgmental brainstorming is that out of the many ideas you ultimately reject, you will invariably find a few that are gems. When you do, it’s like finding the rare pearl hidden in one of a thousand oysters. And then you’re on your way to an agreement that will last.
  • If you have children under 18, we will work on a Parenting Plan. We will brainstorm ideas to make the best plan possible for you and your kids. The plan will specify how much time each of you will spend with your kids. It makes no difference if they will be living primarily with mom or dad. Connecticut requires both parents to be a part of that plan.
  • The Parenting Plan will also go into detail about the rights and responsibilities you have concerning health insurance, medical decisions, and other major decision-making concerning the children. More brainstorming – more tossing ideas onto the table without criticizing them or making judgments. One of the most important areas concerning your children is what to do if one of you decides to move permanently out of their area. That is also known as relocation. We will discuss this topic during your mediation.
  • If you have children who have graduated from high school but are under 23, we will talk about post high school education. Connecticut courts can make orders for education expenses for such children.
  • If we reach an impasse during the negotiations, I will suggest various ways of breaking free of it, such as meeting with each of you separately, and using some advanced mediation techniques.
  • When you have agreed on all the aspects of the divorce, I will draft a Divorce Agreement, (also called a Separation Agreement in Connecticut).
  • We will discuss serving and filing your divorce papers. You will decide the best time to start the case. I will draft the papers, explain them to you, and arrange to have them Served on whichever of you is the defendant. You will proceed as self-represented parties, and I will prepare you for your divorce hearing. I will also go with you to the hearing, just in case the judge has a question that requires my assistance.
  • Everything that happens during your mediation will be voluntary. Each of you will have an absolute veto over the proceedings. Nothing will be coerced. I will not impose any settlement terms. Part of my work will be to help you get to Yes by narrowing the differences between you, in order to reach a principled agreement. And everything we do or say will be with respect and concern for each other’s ultimate happiness. For some, that may be hard to do at first. But since mediation is a respectful method of resolving problems, that process will help bring out the best in both of you. You might be surprised how powerful a generous heart can be in achieving a generous settlement. And the problem-solving skills you learn in mediation can last a lifetime.
  • We will resolve any problems that surface during the negotiations without court intervention. It makes good sense that the people who know the issues best should be the ones to address them. So, rather than asking a judge, who knows nothing about your circumstances, and even less about your concerns, hopes and vision for the future, to solve your problem, we will do the heavy lifting together.
  • You will go to court once and only once – on the day of your divorce hearing.

Of course, there are two questions you must ask before committing to mediate your divorce: 1) How long will it take? and 2) How much will it cost? The two questions are linked. The answer to the first question is that your mediation will last only as long as it takes you and your spouse to reach agreement on all the issues you need resolved, and not a minute longer. I will go at your pace. The more you are in agreement, the shorter the process. Which brings us to the question of cost. The less time we need to reach an agreement, yes, the more money you will save.

Here’s how the two questions are linked: If you bring an agreement on all the issues to our first mediation session, I will need only to review it, make sure you understand all the legal and tax consequences of your agreement, draft the court papers and the required financial affidavits, put your agreement into the proper legal form, and prepare you for your divorce hearing. If you prefer to do some of those things yourself, I can act as your divorce coach and show you how to accomplish them. That is known as “unbundling,” and will further reduce the cost of your divorce. (You can find my article on that topic by clicking this link: “Unbundling“. You can also find it by clicking the “Unbundling” link on the Home Page.)

I will be happy to discuss any of your questions directly and confidentially. Just give me a call at 203-372-9055 or send me an email at brielaw@snet.net, and we’ll spend as much time as you need speaking together.

Thanks for spending time with me today.

Sincerely,

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Harold Brienes

Mediation works best when each spouse cares about the other’s outcome.