What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral expert helps you resolve all issues related to the dissolution of your marriage. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator does not make decisions for the parties. Instead, the mediator guides the parties through a structured negotiation toward a settlement. The mediator helps identify issues, eliminate communication barriers, and evaluate potential solutions. Mediation is:
Frequently Asked Questions About Mediation
Why should we choose mediation?
It’s faster, cheaper, more convenient, and less stressful than the alternatives. Plus, you get to decide what happens to your money and what’s best for your children.
How long does mediation take?
Most cases can be successfully mediated in 3-6 sessions occurring over a few weeks. To keep things manageable, we usually work in blocks of 2-3 hours. We’ll ask you to do some homework between sessions. This typically involves gathering information and thinking about your proposals. The more prepared you are, the faster you’ll reach a resolution.
Is mediation confidential?
Divorce mediation occurs in private, and you and your spouse can agree to keep matters discussed and your agreements confidential. Also, we as your divorce mediators will maintain complete confidentiality. This means we won’t disclose what you tell us in mediation, except in very limited circumstances.
We can’t talk to each other. How will you help us?
Divorce mediation focuses on the needs and interests of both spouses. We discourage making threats or demands and positional bargaining. As experienced divorce mediators, we will maintain a calm, cooperative environment, even if your relationship is strained. As a result of mediation, over time you and your ex may be able to turn a negative relationship into a positive one. This is especially important if you have children.
How much does mediation cost?
The short answer is that it depends on you. We bill hourly for time spent in mediation, reviewing documents, and summarizing information and agreements you reach. There’s no retainer; you pay as you go. You can commit to mediation one session at a time and can stop if it is not working for you. For your convenience, we accept major credit cards, as well as checks.
You can do things to reduce your costs. The more work you do between sessions, such as gathering, organizing, and accurately summarizing financial records, the faster you will proceed through mediation.
Do I need a lawyer in mediation?
You do not need a lawyer to mediate. In most cases we handle, unless mediation has been court-ordered, lawyers do not attend and do not negotiate on behalf of the parties.
However, we do recommend that you hire attorneys and consult with them during the process. As mediators, we cannot advise you about how a judge might decide your case. Also, we cannot draft your separation agreement or prepare divorce pleadings. A lawyer can help you with these things, and we can recommend some who will do so for a reasonable fee.
Are there any cases that are not appropriate for mediation?
During initial phone calls and at the orientation session, we carefully screen each case to determine if mediation is appropriate. Generally, mediation is not appropriate in cases involving abuse or where one party has a motive other than negotiating a settlement in good faith. In addition, we reserve the right to end mediation if one party tries to dominate the negotiation or improperly influence the decisions of the other, or if a proposed agreement is unconscionable.
Two divorce mediators are better than one.
Sean and Gina Vitrano work as a mediation team. It’s a fact that men and women communicate differently. Remember the book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus?” Husbands and wives have different perspectives regarding their marital relationship, how to parent children, and how to manage the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of separation and divorce. Having divorce mediators of both genders present promotes better overall communication.
A successful negotiation depends upon both of you understanding the other’s needs and interests, as well as your own. Accordingly, we’ll help you hear your partner — even if both of you are angry or upset — and we’ll help your partner hear you.
Gina is an experienced family mediator. She is an outstanding listener and has a knack for making people feel comfortable in stressful situations. She’s also an expert with numbers and holds a professional certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 1991 and then embarked on a career in the corporate world before pausing to raise two children. She has worked as a manager in human resources, communications, and marketing departments in the banking and manufacturing industries. Today, in addition to her work as a mediator and the business manager of the firm, she operates an independent bookkeeping firm.
Gina is a firm believer in giving back to her community. She has served as the PTSA Treasurer for the elementary and middle schools that her children attended, a volunteer in the youth and Brown Bag ministries at Hope Lutheran Church, an in-court mediator with Carolina Dispute Settlement Services, and a longstanding member of the board of the North Carolina Association of Professional Family Mediators.
In her free time, you can find Gina in a comfortable chair reading historical fiction or walking the family dogs, Miki and Tank. She also enjoys hiking, cycling, and yoga.
Sean is a mediator and collaborative attorney who helps individuals resolve family disputes out of court. He is certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission as a family financial mediator. He maintains an AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
He is a past president and longstanding member of the North Carolina Association of Professional Family Mediators, an organization that provides quarterly advanced-practitioner training to family mediators. He is a founding member of Triangle Collaborative Divorce Professionals, a multidisciplinary collaborative practice group. He serves on the North Carolina Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section Council. In addition to working directly with divorcing couples, he mediates in the Wake County Family Court.
He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom in 1993 and his law degree from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 2001.
When he is not working, Sean enjoys reading, cycling, and riding motorcycles (Triumphs, naturally).
We focus exclusively on helping spouses resolve issues related to their marriage out of court. Our work has helped dozens of couples come up with parenting and financial agreements that work well in the real world. Additionally, we regularly attend advanced continuing mediator education and continuing legal education for family law attorneys. And we serve as trainers and mentors for other mediators, as well as leaders in organizations that teach and promote dispute resolution.
Divorce mediation can be scheduled around your schedules, including in the evening and on Saturdays. Many couples find this convenient because they are juggling work and child care obligations. Although it is our preference to conduct mediation in person in our large, clean conference room, we can also conduct mediation by video conference using Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet.
Have a look at some of the wonderful things people say about us.
Check back soon. We’re working on some new articles for you!