Frequently Asked Questions

What is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is an informal yet structured process for handling your divorce in which the parties involved voluntarily meet with trained and impartial mediators to resolve their dispute.

MINDFUL MEDIATION 

At BFM, we understand that the divorce process is traumatic and emotional, and there is no way to separate the emotional aspect of the divorce from the actual divorce.  So what makes us unique, is that we actually offer tools for helping you deal with the divorce in a powerful way so that you will be able to approach the mediation process feeling empowered, centered, peaceful and whole.   

YOU DECIDE

The wonderful part of mediation is that it is your chance for opportunity.   You have the opportunity to choose the outcome you want.  The mediators do not decide the outcome, nor do any judges.  You and your soon-to-be-ex get to craft your own agreements on issues of parenting plan, child support, spousal support, and the division of all property/assets/debts, all with the guidance, support and assistance of experienced mediators.  

CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVATE

The mediation process is protected by laws of confidentiality.   This means that any and all financial and personal discussions relating to you and your children will be kept private..   This is unlike if your case would proceed to court where all information becomes public record and often the court rooms are even open for people to walk in and out of as they please.

WRITTEN AGREEMENT

As you and your spouse have reached agreements, the mediators will be memorializing them in real time, so that there is no miscommunication or trying to remember.   The mediation process allows you both to consider the unique needs of your family and at BFM,  we support you in coming to those agreements, facilitating the conversations on the issues that need to be decided, and provide with legal information (not legal advice) if needed.   We can also assist you with drafting all the final agreements and other paperwork, as well as filing the documents with the court.  

What Makes BFM Unique?

MINDFUL MEDIATION:   We believe that we are the first mediation center in the country, which offers a "mindul" approach to mediation.    When co-founder, Rebecca Zung, Esq., wrote her bestselling divorce book "Breaking Free:  A Step by Step Divorce Guide to Achieving Emotional Physical and Spiritual Freedom" in 2013, she took into consideration a holistic approach to divorce.   At BFM, we are taking that holistic approach to the next level, in assisting you with dealing powerfully with this divorce, by recognizing that you will be experiencing the emotions of divorce, while handling the details of physically (legally) divorcing; while also considering how to free your spirit.    We offer tools, meditations, exercises, and have contracted with the best experts in their fields, to offer everything you'll need in order for you to make this divorce an opportunity to create a new beginning and new future.   


NO LITIGATION: We only mediate at BFM.   A litigation track is not available through us.   It is unique to a mediation firm who doesn’t ever litigate and only mediates. This allows our focus to always remain on the communication piece of your divorce.  


NO HIDDEN COSTS: By offering packages with structured and fixed fees we ensure transparency in our fees, and you are assured the opportunity to keep more of your money to spend on yourself or your family, instead of spending it on litigating a divorce.


OPTION TO CHOOSE IN PERSON OR ONLINE - AND CAN ADD A MINDFUL TRACK TO EITHER CHOICE: Many clients want the convenience or have a need of doing their mediation process remotely via live video-conferencing. Online mediation can be very beneficial for parties where spouses live in different areas.   Some parties choose online mediation when it just simply is not beneficial for them to negotiate by being in the same room.   The online platform allows the mediation to proceed with one or both of the parties who can’t be present in the office. There is no need to miss work or schedule travel time. With online mediation, spouses who live or work far apart can still work together in mediation to resolve their divorce and restructure their family.   By adding the mindful track, you are given tools, resources and guidance to be able to center yourself, breathe, and feel more calm and at peace as you approach the negotiations process.   


Some of the benefits of live online mediation are: 

Convenient
Live Video Conferences using the online secure platform provided by Zoom.us to conduct your online mediation process. Your mediation process can be scheduled in the privacy of your own home or office and at times that best suit your busy schedule. The Zoom app is free to download at Zoom.us


Cost Effective
With travel time taken out of the equation, you can avoid the expense of missing work or having to hire childcare in order to meet with your Mediation team. In addition, the Zoom platform is free to use for clients.


Easy to Use
The Zoom platform is simple and easy to use and allows you to both see your mediators while also having the flexibility to share documents or forms on screen for ease of discussion or review.

What Happens During Divorce Mediation?

Mediation sessions are structured conversations directed toward resolution that are facilitated by the mediator.  The mediator guides the discussion to help clarify the issues and move toward an agreement, called a Marital Settlement Agreement.   There is an agenda with all items to be addressed.  Each party will be heard regarding their proposal for the items. BFM focuses on consciously and mindfully resolving all issues in a way that is fair to both parties, so that both parties can begin to heal, and create a new future. 

Overview: The Stages of Divorce Mediation

1.   Complimentary consultation

The process begins with one complimentary 30 minute consultation.  During that consultation, you and the other party will learn about the mediation process, find out what to expect, discuss the fees involved, and answer your questions. Both parties must attend the consultation as mediation because in order for the mindful mediation process to be successful, both of you must fully participation in the entire process.


2.  Exchange of financial information and completions of any appraisals required.  


3.  Joint 2 hour sessions to bring forward and then resolve any issues.   

It is usual that more than one joint session will be needed to resolve all issues.  The main areas to be discussed in divorce cases are:  property settlement (assets and debts); spousal support issues (if they are at issue); parenting plans (if there are children) and child support (if necessary) . All mediation sessions are scheduled for 2 hours in length so that all parties can plan accordingly.  


4. Memorialize agreements in writing, culminating with the final main document which is called the Marital Settlement Agreement. Both parties are encouraged to submit the MSA draft to an outside attorney for review to ensure they fully understand the agreements they have made regarding all their individual legal rights.


5.  Execute the MSA and then file the agreement and other ancillary documents with the court.  


6.  Submit the proposed Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage to the judge for review and signature.   

What Are the Advantages of Mediation?

Mediation provides a unique opportunity to develop a mutually acceptable outcome that meets the individual needs of the parties.

PRIVATE

You both will meet in our office or choose Online to discuss all the issues that need to be resolved (not in the public court room). Our legal courier goes to the court house and files the documents for you. Your discussions regarding the issues that are personal and private (such as your finances, parenting plan etc.) are simply discussed at the mediation table with the mediators and not in the public arena of the court room.

SAVES MONEY (we are on average 90- 95% less expensive than litigation).
***According to Presiding Family Law Judge Marjorie Steinberg in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, May 4, 2008, if a couple can get a divorce for $100,000 in Los Angeles, Judge Steinberg considers that “pretty cheap.”  Los Angeles’ then-presiding family law judge, Aviva Bobb, from a bar association meeting in September 2002 stated: “By the time we see [divorce] cases in court, most people have spent all their community assets on the divorce itself.”

CONVENIENT
We offer after work and Online appointment options as well if needed. We work at your pace set around your schedule.

TIME EFFICIENT
You determine the pace of the process. In litigation you can only move at the pace of the court’s schedule but in mediation we schedule the sessions at a time that works for everyone and we can be done in a day or take a few sessions to complete, it’s up to the two of you.

INFORMAL
We handle your divorce process in a private and respectful environment. The process of divorce is never easy but we can support you both in crafting an agreement that represents your unique relationship and family while encouraging you to stay future focused. When children are involved we promote a child-centered decision making process.

NO COURT APPEARANCE NEEDED
You won’t need to appear at the public court house; we will file everything for you. If you don’t finish the process prior to your first court appearance, we can draft and file a stipulation to postpone your next court date for 6 months while you finish up in mediation.

LESS STRESS
We take care of all the drafting and filing of the legal documents from the initial court documents to the final MSA and judgment documents. You do not have to spend the emotional time and energy on figure out the forms or going to court. All of our Attorney mediators are licensed and practicing attorneys in the state of California.

What is the Role of the Mediator?

The role of the mediators is to:

  • Facilitate a process that assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable solution
  • Help parties communicate productively on difficult issues in order to stay future focused
  • Help in generating options/brainstorming possibilities for resolving issues between the parties
  • Ensure that the mediation process stays balanced and both parties get to discuss their wants and needs from their perspective
  • Assist in crafting terms of the MSA agreement that is consistent with the principles of justice and fairness
  • Assist both parties in staying child-centered in their decision making

Breaking Free Mediation will provide both parties with current, relevant legal INFORMATION regarding divorce in California, Illinois, Connecticut and Florida, but will not ADVISE the clients or make judgments on their behalf about what they should do with the legal information. The difference between providing legal information versus legal advice is that our attorney mediators can tell parties what the law says but not how they should use that information for their benefit because the mediator does NOT represent either party. The spouses have control over all agreements made in the mediation process.

When is the Best Time to Start the Mediation Process?

Parties considering using divorce mediation instead of litigating their divorce in the courts may choose to start the mediation before or after filing a Petition for Dissolution.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO SCHEDULE YOUR COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION:

Email for Illinois or Connecticut

susan@breakingfreemediation.com 

Email for California or Florida: 

Rebecca@breakingfreemediation.com 

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