For more than 20 years, Farrell & Croft, P.C. has helped spouses through mediation services in Virginia. Whether serving as your mediator or as your individual counsel, Farrell & Croft, P.C. can help craft an equitable resolution of your family law issues.
Based in Manassas, Virginia, we assist with mediation throughout Prince William County. We encourage you to contact us if you have questions about how we may serve you.
When You and Your Spouse Wish to Use Custody and Divorce Mediation to Resolve Your Divorce Amicably
Divorce mediation is a process that allows you to work cooperatively to resolve issues raised in separation and divorce for the benefit of your family. Mediators provide neutral communication facilitation between the parties and encourage problem-solving by the parties.
For those willing to give full disclosure of their financial situation, custody and divorce mediation may be the answer. Mediation empowers you to problem solve and keeps the decision-making within your control, and not within the control of a judge or another person. Successful mediation can provide the foundation for future effective communication between the parties. Therefore, mediation is especially useful in cases involving children. Remember parents have an ongoing parental relationship regardless of the status of their marital relationship.
The Mediation Process
When you engage in the custody and divorce mediation process, it is important to note that the mediator is neutral and does not represent either party. The role of the mediator is to facilitate productive communication, to instill decorum and civility, to provide ideas for problem-solving, but not to provide legal advice. The successful mediation ends with a signed mediated agreement. The written agreement is prepared by the mediator. The parties are encouraged to have the agreement reviewed by his or her counsel prior to signing. The role of counsel in a case handled through mediation is straightforward — to provide legal advice and counsel to his or her client.
All mediation sessions require the appearance and participation of both parties. In addition, counsel is welcome to attend but is not required at the mediation sessions. The parties are encouraged to communicate with counsel as the need for clarification of legal rights and legal advice becomes apparent either during the mediation sessions or outside of the mediation sessions.
Mediation is Confidential
Because mediation is a confidential process you are able to express your position with confidence that what you say will remain private. With limited exceptions, no documentation or information obtained solely in mediation is admissible in litigation. Mediator’s notes cannot be subpoenaed in litigation. Mediators cannot be required to testify at trial or otherwise except in very limited circumstances.
Number and Length of Sessions Varies
The initial session lasts from 1.5 – 2 hours. At the initial session, the mediator will get a sense of what the parties are disputing and what the parties have already agreed upon. Follow-up sessions will vary in length but will generally be no less than 1 hour. Many cases are concluded in several sessions; the total number of sessions required depends on the parties, the complexity of the issues, and the ability of the parties to compromise and make decisions.
The Mediation Fee is Equally Shared by the Parties
The parties equally share the mediation fee and it is payable at the time of the sessions and prior to the drafting of the agreement. While in litigation, the parties each pay their own counsel. As a result, the overall cost of mediation is often less than any other method of conflict resolution.
The Role of Counsel in Mediation
The role of counsel is to advise you. Many mediation participants choose to attend without counsel. However, your counsel may attend the sessions with you if you so choose. You are encouraged to have the mediated agreement reviewed by your counsel prior to signing it. Upon request, drafts of the agreements will be forwarded by the mediator directly to counsel.
Mediation Is a Process and Takes Some Time
It’s tempting to want to have all of your conflict and emotional struggle behind you. That will happen as soon as it can happen. But emotional readiness is one factor that affects the speed at which mediation can proceed. Remember, just because you are ready for change and closure, the other mediation party may not be as emotionally ready as you are. Both parties need to be ready to move forward. When each is ready that is when mediation will be successful. Therefore, be prepared to let the process happen – the timing of some of it is out of your control. When you can accept that fact, you will find the process to be very productive. Documentation is needed. Even so, don’t delay scheduling because you can’t find everything; bring what you can easily gather.
You should be prepared to provide the following at some point:
Completed Financial Disclosure Form.
Documentation related to your identification and the identification of your children:
- Identification Documentation
- Social Security Numbers
- Driver’s Licenses
Documentation related to your financial situation identifying and providing a current value of:
- All Financial Assets
- Bank Accounts
- Non-Retirement Investment Accounts
- Retirement Savings Accounts (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.)
- Pensions (Military, CSRS, FERS, Private)
- College Accounts (UTMA, UGMA, 529, etc.)
- Other Financial Assets
Documentation related to ownership and value of your house(s) and car(s)
- Significant Property & Related Loan Information (Balance Due & Monthly Payment)
- House and Other Real Estate
- Cars, Boats, and Other Licensed or Titled Property
- Other Significant Property
- Do Not Inventory Your Household Property and Furnishings but do make note of items of particular sentimental or other value to you.
Documentation related to your financial liabilities (what you owe)
- Credit Cards
- Financing Arrangements
- Outstanding Unreimbursed Medical Expenses
- Student Loans
- Loans from Friends or Family
- Other Loans or Financial Obligations
Documentation related to your income:
- All Salary, Wages and Other Forms of Compensation
- Recent Pay Stubs
- Employment Agreement
- Stock Options Plan
- Bonus Schedule
- Commission Schedule
- Deferred Compensation
Documentation related to your Life Insurance coverage:
- Death Benefit Amount
- Term or Other (Whole, Universal, etc.)
- If Other, Cash Value
- Copy of Policy
Documentation related to your Health Insurance:
- Health, Dental & Vision
- Cost of Current Coverage
- Cost of Same Coverage for “Employee Only” and for “Employee plus Children” (may be the same as Family Plan)
- Copy of Most Recent Tax Returns
- Knowledge of Current Year Tax Status
- Estimated Tax Payments
- Past Due Taxes
Catherine S. Croft, Professional Mediator
- Rappahannock Mediation Center 1993
Family and Divorce Mediation Training
- Over 25 years as a practicing domestic relations lawyer.
- Skilled in drafting separation agreements, marital agreements, custody and support agreements
- History of successful mediations
- Enthusiasm for the mediation process
Kathleen L. Farrell, Professional Mediator
- Rappahannock Mediation Center 1993
Basic Mediation Training
Family and Divorce Mediation Training
- Over 25 years as a practicing domestic relations lawyer
- Appointed by the Circuit Court of Fairfax as a Neutral Case Evaluator
- Skilled in drafting separation agreements, marital agreements, custody and support agreement