Mediation FAQ

Notice – Mediation is not the practice of law. The New Hampshire Bar Association recommends that all information on Mediation be kept separate from information on a licensed law practice so as not to cause confusion. See below.

Definition – Mediation is a way for people to make decisions in a divorce and other family disputes with the help of a trained neutral person or persons. It is an alternative to negotiation through lawyers and to litigation in court to resolve disputed issues. The mediator ensures a fair process based on equal participation and full disclosure. Mediation is not a substitute for lawyers, as only a lawyer can provide legal advice. Having a lawyer to advise you during the mediation is recommended.

Introduction to Mediation

  1. The goal of mediation is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
  2. All issues pertaining to the dissolution are negotiated in good faith. Therefore, it is essential that both parties share all pertinent information.
  3. A series of meetings is held until resolution is reached on all issue. Most meetings are held with the mediator and both parties; however, sometimes there are sessions with each of the parties separately.
  4. The issues to be negotiated usually include division of assets, division of debts, spousal support, parenting (formerly called custody), and child support.
  5. During the mediation sessions, the mediator assists the husband and wife (or father and mother) in negotiating an agreement. The role is to facilitate an agreement that is fair as possible to all involved.

Mediators

Conflicts – If either party has consulted a mediator in his/her mental health or legal profession, there is a conflict and another mediator or mediation group must be used.

Fill out the Request for Mediation Appointment.

Mediation FAQ

Note – If you want information on divorce in states other than New Hampshire, check the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for the directory of divorce lawyers.

1. What is mediation?

2. What is the role of mediation in resolving divorce and parenting (formerly called custody) disputes?

3. How does mediation work?

4. What are the advantages of using mediation in a divorce or parenting (formerly called custody) dispute?

5. How long does mediation take?

6. Will I save money by using mediation?

7. What is co-mediation?

8. If I use mediation, do I need a lawyer?

9. What education and training do mediators have?

10. How do we find a mediator or co-mediators to help us work out parenting (formerly called custody) and financial issues?

11. Where can I get more information about divorce mediation?

12. How can we get a mediation appointment with Ms. Hastings?


1. What is mediation?

Mediation is a method of resolving disputes in which the people in conflict negotiate the solution, with the help of a trained neutral person. For a list of mediators certified by the State of New Hampshire: http://www.state.nh.us/marital/mediators.htm

2. What is the role of mediation in resolving divorce and parenting (formerly called custody) disputes?

Mediation is one of 5 methods available for deciding the issues in a divorce or parenting (formerly called custody) case. The 5 are, in order of amount of control by the parties:

  • A. Informal discussions – You and your spouse reach agreement through informal discussions.
  • B. Mediation – With the help of a trained mediator, you and your spouse resolve the issues.
  • C. Collaborative Law – Each hires a lawyer trained in Collaborative Law. Both lawyers and both parties commit to resolving the case without going to court.
  • D. Negotiation – Each of you hires a lawyer and negotiations between the lawyers result in an agreement.
  • E. Court – If discussion, mediation, and negotiation do not settle all divorce issues between you and your spouse, the Master or judge will make the decisions, after a contested hearing.

Some couples use a combination of 2 or more of the methods. For example, they decide parenting through discussion or mediation, property division by negotiation through their lawyers, and then leave support for the court to decide.

3. How does mediation work?

There are a series of mediation sessions, usually 1-2 hours long. Under the direction of the mediator, the couple gather and exchange financial and other information. Each party explains his or her feelings and thinking about each issue. With the help of the mediator, possible solutions are listed and discussed. The parties then develop an agreement that meets the needs of all family members.

4. What are the advantages of using mediation in a divorce or parenting (formerly called custody) dispute?

Compared with negotiation or a contested hearing, mediation best preserves/ improves the working relationship between the parties and results in better compliance with the agreement.

5. How long does mediation take?

It depends on the number and nature of the disputed issues and the parties’ ability to mediate. Some couples are able to resolve their issues in 1 or 2 sessions. For most couples, 3 to 5 sessions are needed. Complicated cases may take 6 or more sessions.

6. Will I save money by using mediation?

Any process that avoids a contested final hearing to resolve issues will usually cost less than litigation. For many people, mediation costs less than negotiation, even when they have lawyers as well as mediators. However, the primary advantages are the parties’ control of the decisions and the positive impact of mediation on their future relationship. The costs of divorce are covered in the divorce FAQ.

7. What is co-mediation?

Co-mediation is using a pair of mediators, sometimes an experienced mediator paired with one who recently completed his or her training.

8. If I use mediation, do I need a lawyer?

Yes. A lawyer provides several important services that a mediator is prohibited from providing, even if she is a lawyer:

  • A. Preparation and filing of the petition (court paper requesting divorce).
  • B. Legal advice on how the law applies to you. Usually you have legal options or choices on the principles issues, each with pros and cons. Your lawyer can help you to understand your options.
  • C. Review of the mediated agreement to be sure it meets your needs and the legal requirements.

More information is provided in the divorce FAQ

9. What education and training do mediators have?

Some mediators are lay people, trained to help others resolve divorce issues. They have hours of training, and an internship with an experienced mediator. Professional mediators are lawyers and mental health professionals who have hours of mediation training, in addition to their graduate education and years of experience in law or therapy. Certified family mediators are those who have at least 48 hours of mediation training, plus a period of internship.

10. How do we find a mediator or co-mediators to help us work out parenting (formerly called custody) and financial issues?

Ask your therapist, clergy person, or lawyer for names of mediators. Check the Certification Board website. For a list of mediators certified by the State of New Hampshire: http://www.nh.gov/family-mediator/

When you have 2-3 names, call each of them and get information on background, training, and fees. Most mediators offer an introductory session at a modest cost. This is a good way to see if this mediator or co-mediators are right for you.

11. Where can I get more information about divorce mediation?
Ms. Hastings has a website exclusively about mediation at www.FamilyMediationNH.com.

Her book The New Hampshire Divorce Handbook includes a chapter on the methods of making divorce decisions. The mediation process is explained in detail.

12. How can we get a mediation appointment with Ms. Hastings?

Please fill out a Mediation Appointment Request.