Considering Mediation?

Frequently Asked Questions About Mediation

Here are some of the top questions we get asked by folks considering mediation.  If you have a question not mentioned below, please call or contact us and we'll get back to you within 2 business days or sooner.

Take your time with these questions. There is a ton of information here.

(Click on the questions below to see the answers)

What is mediation?

Mediation in family law court refers to a process in which a neutral third-party mediator helps couples reach a mutually acceptable agreement on issues such as child custody, property division, and support. Typically this happens during divorce, however mediation is useful for disputes of any nature.

The goal of family law mediation is to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of all parties, particularly children, without the need for a trial. Mediation is less formal and less adversarial, less expensive and quicker than going to trial.

Why mediate? / What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation vs going to trial has several benefits including:

  1. Cost: Mediation is far less expensive than a trial.
  2. Time: Mediation is substantially quicker than a trial.
  3. Control: Mediation allows the parties to have more control over the outcome compared to a trial decided by a judge.
  4. Privacy: Mediation is confidential and private, whereas trials are public.
  5. Relationships: Mediation can preserve relationships, whereas a trial can be very damaging to relationships.
  6. Flexibility: Mediation provides more flexibility in terms of finding creative solutions, whereas a trial is determined  by the discretion of the judge.
  7. Empowerment: Mediation empowers the parties to make their own decisions, instead of a trial where the decision is made by a judge.
  8. Satisfaction: Mediation usually leads to better agreements that are more likely to meet the parties needs..

What happens in a mediation session?

A divorce mediation in South Carolina typically follows these steps:

  1. Introduction: The mediator will introduce themselves and explain the mediation process and their role.

  2. Separate sessions: The parties will meet separately with the mediator, who will discuss their individual needs and concerns.

  3. Joint session: The parties will then meet together with the mediator to discuss their disputes and work towards finding a resolution.

  4. Agreement: If a resolution is reached, the mediator will help the parties draft a written agreement that covers the terms of their agreement.

  5. Implementation: The parties will take the necessary steps to implement the agreement, such as filing it with the court.

Throughout the mediation process, the mediator will help the parties communicate effectively, negotiate in good faith, and find a mutually acceptable solution. The mediator will also provide guidance and support, but will not make decisions for the parties. The goal of divorce mediation in South Carolina is to help the parties reach a resolution that is in the best interests of all parties involved, particularly children, without the need for a trial.

How much does mediation cost?

The total cost of your mediation in South Carolina can range from  $650 to $3,000, depending on the mediator's rate and time spent. Usually the fee is split between parties, so your half could be $325 - $1,500. You will also be paying your attorney's fee as needed.

This may seem like a lot until you consider the alternative. If you go to trial, your attorney is going to want a new retainer ranging anywhere from $10,000 - $20,000. And that's just to start.

In addition to the time spent in mediation, mediators often charge a little more to cover the time they spend reviewing and writing up various paperwork related to your case.

Crossroads charges $200/hour plus an additional hour for paperwork with a 4 hour minimum. So, our mediation rates start at $800  for the most simple, basic, mediations or $1,800 for a full day mediation covering more complex situations..

Give us a call and we can discuss your situation.


Where does the mediation take place?

Your mediation be held either online via teleconference or at a mutually agreed upon location. Often the location will be one of the attorney's offices.

The mediation may be conducted with you and your spouse in separate rooms or together in a conference room.

What does the mediator do?

A divorce mediator in South Carolina helps the parties resolve their disputes through a process of negotiation and compromise. The mediator remains impartial  does not take sides in this process. The mediator's role includes:

  1. Facilitating communication: The mediator helps the parties communicate effectively, reducing conflicts and promoting cooperation.
  2. Providing information: The mediator provides information to the parties on the divorce process, the law, and options for resolving disputes.
  3. Assisting with negotiation: The mediator helps the parties negotiate in good faith, encouraging them to consider each other's needs and perspectives.
  4. Drafting agreements: If a resolution is reached, the mediator will help the parties draft a written agreement that covers the terms of their agreement.
  5. Maintaining impartiality: The mediator remains neutral and impartial throughout the process, not taking sides or making decisions for the parties.

The mediator's goal is to assist the parties in resolving their disputes in a fair, efficient, and mutually acceptable manner, without the need for a trial. The mediator is not a judge or a decision-maker, but instead helps the parties reach a resolution that is in both of their interests and meets their individual needs and concerns.

How does divorce mediation affect my children?

Divorce mediation can have both positive and negative effects on children, depending on how the process is handled. Here are some of the ways that divorce mediation can affect children:

  1. Reduced conflict: Divorce mediation can reduce the level of conflict between the parents, which helps  by reducing the stress and anxiety children experience during divorce.
  2. Improved communication: Divorce mediation can help improve communication between the parents, which can benefit children by fostering a more positive and cooperative relationship between the parents.
  3. Increased control: Divorce mediation allows both parents to have a say in the outcome of the divorce, which can benefit children by giving them more options.
  4. Minimized trauma: Divorce mediation can help minimize the trauma that children experience during the divorce process by reducing the level of conflict and promoting a more cooperative and respectful relationship between the parents.

By working with a qualified and experienced mediator, you can ensure that the divorce decisions are handled in a way that minimizes the impact on your children.

Can divorce mediation resolve all issues in my case?

Divorce mediation often addresses a wide range of issues in a divorce case, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. However, you may not be able to resolve all issues in your case. Some issues may be more complex or emotionally charged than others. They may require additional time, effort, or legal input to resolve.

While the majority of mediation resolve all issue in a divorce, it is a huge win to get the issues you did resolve taken care of.

The remaining issues can be addressed through arbitration, negotiation, repeat mediation or, as a last resort, trial.

Keep in mind that divorce mediation is a voluntary and collaborative process. As such, for best results, both parties must be willing to work together to reach an agreement. .

Rest assured that by working with a qualified and experienced mediator, you ensured that your mediation is as productive and efficient as possible.

How do I prepare for mediation?

Here are some steps to help you prepare for divorce mediation:

  1. Gather information: Assemble financial information, such as bank statements, tax returns, and bills, to help you make informed decisions during mediation. Complete your financial disclosure. Make sure you have your spouse's current financial disclosure.
  2. Identify goals and priorities: Consider what you hope to achieve through mediation and what your priorities are in the divorce settlement. This can help you focus your efforts during the mediation process.
  3. Consider the other party's perspective: Try to understand the other party's position and what they hope to achieve through the mediation process. This can help you identify areas of common ground and work towards a mutually acceptable agreement.
  4. Seek advice from a trusted advisor: Consult with an attorney or other trusted advisor to understand your rights and obligations under the law and to get their perspective on the mediation process.
  5. Be flexible and open-minded: Be prepared to compromise and be open to new ideas and solutions during the mediation process.
  6. Be respectful: Prepare to be respectful and professional during the mediation process, even if you disagree with the other party. This can help to create a positive and productive environment for resolving the dispute.
  7. Hire an attorney: If you are uncomfortable representing yourself in the mediation process, consider hiring an attorney to provide guidance and support.

It is important to keep in mind that divorce mediation is a collaborative process, and your preparation and attitude can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. By following these steps, you can help ensure that the mediation process is productive and successful.

What if I'm not comfortable meeting face to face with my spouse?

If you are not comfortable meeting with your spouse and/or their attorney in the same room, let your attorney or the mediator know. You will then meet with your mediator in separate rooms. Teleconferences also have a virtual version of separate rooms available.


What does the mediator not do?

A mediator is a neutral third-party who helps spouses negotiate a family law settlement agreement outside of court. While a mediator can assist spouses in resolving various issues related to their divorce, there are certain things that a mediator typically does not do, including:

  1. Give advice: A mediator is not a lawyer nor accountant and cannot provide legal or financial  advice to either spouse. It is recommended that each spouse consult with their own attorneys or other professionals for advice during the divorce process.
  2. Make decisions: A mediator does not make decisions for the spouses nor impose a settlement agreement. The mediator's role is to facilitate negotiations and help the spouses reach their own agreement.
  3. Take sides: A mediator is neutral and does not take sides or advocate for one spouse over the other. The mediator's focus is on helping the spouses work together to reach an agreement that works for both parties.
  4. Represent either spouse: A mediator does not represent either spouse and cannot provide legal representation. It is recommended that each spouse have their own attorney to provide legal representation during the divorce process.
  5. Force either spouse to agree to a settlement: A mediator cannot force either spouse to agree to a settlement agreement. Both parties must agree to the terms of the settlement voluntarily.

Am I required to go to mediation as part of my divorce?

If you and your spouse have resolved all issues in your divorce in  signed written agreement, you do not need to go to mediation.

In South Carolina, mediation is mandatory for all contested divorce cases. Judges will not hear a case with unresolved issues unless the parties have attended a minimum of 3 hours of mediation.

Courts require mediation before trial because mediation has such a high level of success in resolving issues that can be very expensive and time consuming to fight over in court. It's always best to consult with a local family law attorney for more information and guidance on your specific case.


How long does divorce mediation take?

Typically, you can expect your mediation session to last 4 - 8 hours depending on the complexity of the cases and the participants involved.

Keep in mind that divorce mediation is a flexible process and the timeline may be adjusted to meet the needs of the parties involved. Working with a qualified and experienced mediator, can help ensure that your mediation is productive and efficient.


How do I choose a divorce mediator?

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a divorce mediator:

  1. Qualifications: Check if the mediator is a certified mediator or has received specialized training in family law mediation. This can indicate that they have the necessary knowledge and experience to handle complex divorce cases.

  2. Experience: Consider the mediator's experience in handling divorce cases and their success rate in resolving disputes.

  3. Reputation: Look for recommendations from other professionals, such as attorneys or mental health professionals, and read reviews from past clients to get a sense of the mediator's reputation.

  4. Communication skills: Choose a mediator who has excellent communication skills and can effectively facilitate communication between the parties involved in the dispute.

  5. Neutrality: Ensure that the mediator is impartial and does not take sides, as this can undermine the trust and credibility of the mediation process.

  6. Availability: Check if the mediator has the availability to handle your case in a timely manner, and if they are flexible in scheduling mediation sessions around your schedule.

  7. Cost: Consider the cost of mediation and compare it with other methods of resolving disputes, such as litigation, to determine if it is a cost-effective option for your situation.

It is important to keep in mind that choosing the right mediator can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, so it is crucial to take the time to carefully evaluate and compare different mediators to find the one that is best suited to your needs.

What happens if we can't agree during divorce mediation?

If you are unable to reach an agreement after 3 hours, the mediation process can be terminated. Then you will need to prepare for trial.

Most likely, your attorneys will require substantial additional moneys to cover the extremely expensive and time consuming process of trial preparation.

If you have been to agree on some of your issues, you will not need to dispute those in court.

You also still have the possibility of negotiation, arbitration or coming back to mediation.

In this case, the parties will need to consider other methods of resolving their disputes, such as negotiations, arbitration, or litigation in court. Most family law attorneys would agree that you are generally best off resolving your issues in mediation if you possibly can.

Can I bring an attorney to divorce mediation?

Yes, you can bring an attorney to divorce mediation. In fact, it is often recommended that each party has their own attorney during the mediation process, as they can provide legal advice, guidance, and representation during the negotiation process. Attorneys can help ensure that the agreements reached in mediation are legally binding and in their clients' best interests.

It is important to note, however, that the role of the attorney during mediation may vary, and that the parties may choose to have the attorney present for only part of the process, or only for specific issues. The parties should discuss their preferences and needs with their attorneys, and come to a mutually agreed upon arrangement that works best for their situation.

Is divorce mediation confidential?

Yes, generally, divorce mediation is confidential. Mediators are bound by ethical standards that require them to maintain the confidentiality. They are not allowed to disclose details of the mediation process and the information discussed during the process. Importantly, this means that it cannot be used as evidence in court. Mediators cannot disclose any information to outside parties unless the parties involved their give consent.

However, there are some limited exceptions to the confidentiality of divorce mediation.  In these cases, the mediator may be required by law to report the information to the relevant authorities. If you are curious about these exceptions, give us a call or ask your attorney.

Overall, the confidentiality of divorce mediation helps to create a safe and comfortable environment for the parties involved, which can encourage open communication and increase the likelihood of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

Is the agreement reached in divorce mediation legally binding?

You will want your agreement approved by a judge and filed in family court to make it both binding and enforcable. See the question below: How do I enforce the agreement reached in mediation?


How do I enforce the agreement reached in divorce mediation?

Here are the steps to enforce the agreement reached in divorce mediation:

  1. Put the agreement in a signed document: Have the agreement reduced to writing and signed by both parties to ensure that it is legally binding. 
  2. File the agreement with the court: Once the agreement is signed, it must be approved by a judge filed in family court to make it a legally enforceable order.
  3. Have the agreement approved by the court: The court must approve the agreement before it becomes legally binding.
  4. Seek a court order: If either party fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, you can seek a court order to enforce it. This may involve filing a motion for contempt or seeking other legal remedies.
  5. Consult with an attorney: If you need assistance in enforcing the agreement, consider consulting with an attorney to understand your rights and obligations and to get guidance on the legal process.

It is important to keep in mind that the agreement reached in divorce mediation is only as enforceable as the legal process that supports it. By taking the necessary steps to enforce the agreement, you can help ensure that it is respected and upheld in accordance with the law.