What is a PeacefulSplit® divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary, non-adversarial process in which you and your spouse are guided through the process of negotiating issues necessary to file for a divorce. The process begins by each of you reviewing and signing a Mediation Agreement (which I will send to you and your spouse once you let me know you both want to proceed with mediation). This Agreement is the document by which you hire me to serve as the mediator(s) in this matter. At the first session, I review the topics that we will discuss, explain the process in detail, answer any of your preliminary questions, and then we begin to work on areas of basic agreement. We then resolve as many issues as possible first before moving onto to more sensitive issues or issues of significant disagreement. There will be times when I will speak with either of you privately to help narrow down issues or discuss possible negotiated positions. When we resolve one issue we move onto the next. Most importantly, you and your spouse maintain total control of all decisions.

What type of documents are prepared?

Upon conclusion of the mediation session(s), I will draft either one or both of the following documents for you to file with your uncontested divorce papers: (i) Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement – which is an agreement that details how the two of you will divide-up your assets (things you own) and your debts (amounts you owe to others); and (ii) Parenting Plan – which is an agreement that details how the two of you will parent your child(ren) after the divorce (e.g., visitation, parental responsibility, child support, educational and health decisions). In a PeacefulSplit® mediation, the settlement documents that I draft for you are personalized and customized to meet your specific situation, relationship, children, needs and desires.

How quickly can mediation be scheduled?

As a private mediator, I work for the both of you. I make myself available to meet your schedules. You let me know when you both are ready, I will be too. 

Do we have to go to court?

One of the main benefits of engaging in private mediation is to avoid going to Court and involving the Court system until the end of the divorce process. Working together in a safe and neutral environment, we help you both to arrive at negotiated agreements that are then written into a Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement. Similarly, if you have minor children, we help you both negotiate terms and conditions that are then written into a Parenting Plan. Only when you have both reached settlements on the issues and have executed the Agreement(s), will you then decide when to prepare and file the applicable Uncontested Divorce forms with the appropriate court and appear thereafter before a Judge to formalize and approve the divorce.

Do we both have to be involved to mediate?

Yes. Mediation is voluntary and requires the involvement and agreement of both parties. I only do mediations where both spouses feel safe and comfortable being in the same room together. Of course, if we do the mediation via video conference, then you can certainly be in a separate location from your spouse.

Can we use mediation with you even if one or both of us have attorneys?

No. Although there are mediators who mediate divorce cases when either or both parties are represented by counsel, I intentionally choose not to work with couples who are represented by lawyers for the mediation sessions.  While I firmly believe that attorneys have a needed place in some divorce cases, I also think that sometimes it can inhibit the parties from negotiating in good faith to a fair and amicable resolution.  That being said, if you want to be represented by a lawyer during all or part of the process, that is perfectly fine.  However, I will not mediate such cases. If you are currently represented by counsel, I cannot communicate with you. If, at some point, you end being represented by a lawyer, I can discuss the mediation process with you and see if it is a good fit for you and your spouse.

In divorce, who protects the children?

In a PeacefulSplit® Divorce Mediation, I always hold the best interests of the children paramount. The needs of the child(ren) are addressed and agreements are reached with our assistance. All topics are addressed, such as: shared parental responsibility, visitation, living arrangements, birthdays and holiday scheduling, child support, and all other child-related issues. Mediation can also address details not traditionally handled within the adversarial arena, such as higher education, private schools, car insurance, etc. In mediation, the focus is on the best interests of the children. In the adversarial process, an attorney is obligated to protect the best interests of their client. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is not always in the best interests of the children.

Will mediation work if one or both parties are angry?

Generally, the answer is "yes". In over 25-years as an attorney working with high conflict situations, most cases were resolved in a negotiated settlement when both parties were committed to resolution and finality. Underlying issues that can interfere with resolution, such as anger, fear and defensiveness, are challenges to the mediation process; however, we are committed to doing whatever is reasonably possibly to help you both put aside such significant negative emotions and feelings and working together towards a peaceful resolution of all issues.

What are the benefits of mediation?

  • Significantly reduces the legal costs associated with a contested divorce.
  • Enhances child/parent relationships.
  • Maintains privacy.
  • Creates safety for all parties.
  • Allows for your control over all decisions and agreements.
  • Reduces stress for all family members.
  • Fosters consensus building and conflict resolution.
  • Promotes effective communication.
  • Supports and acknowledges the difficult transitions of life events.

Will mediation work if we have a very complex divorce?

Yes! There is no simple divorce; they are all complex and personal to the parties involved. We bring a clear step-by-step approach to the resolution of all issues. Ironically, sometimes what seem like the “simple” divorces take longer and are more complicated to resolve amicably than are the “complicated” divorce matters. In the end, it is not the complexity or simplicity of the financial or parenting issues that impedes a successful mediation, but, rather, the lack of commitment on the part of the spouses to focus on the longer-term issues and perspectives.

If we agree to mediate, are we stuck if it doesn’t work out?  Can I change my mind?

Mediation is a voluntary process. Our goal is to help guide you and facilitate negotiations to enable you both to resolve all issues needed to create the settlement agreements. If, for any reason, you decide during the process and before you sign the settlement documents that mediation is not for you, or that you are not comfortable or simply decided to proceed in a different direction, then the mediation is over. In that case, you are back to “square-one” and can proceed with all available options as if you never started mediation.  You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to obtain a PeacefulSplit®. Essentially, its risk-free (except for the fee).

Do you help couples anywhere in Florida? 

Absolutely! Regardless which county you live in Florida, I can help you. We will conduct the mediation session(s) via a WebEx video conference session. Read more in the next FAQ.

Where are the Mediation Sessions held?

I offer my mediations sessions at two local private locations (Coral Springs and Boca Raton).  However, I also offer the option to hold the mediations via a WebEx video conference session. In these sessions, each spouse can login remotely, from the same or different locations, via phone or video. There is no difference in the quality of the mediation sessions whether held in-office or via video/phone call-in sessions.

My spouse contacted you, but I have a lot of question. What should I do?

Often, one spouse contacts me first to inquire about my mediation services. Please understand that regardless of who contacts me first, I do not advocate for either party nor judge one spouse better or worse than the other. I am wholly impartial and pride myself on my professionalism and neutrality. If you have any questions or concerns, or simply want more information, I am ready, willing and able to speak with you as well. Please feel free to call/email/text me anytime.

Divorce can cost tens of thousands. What is the cost of mediation?

I understand that when you and your spouse are planning for a divorce, finances can be unpredictable. With that in mind, I offer a reasonably priced flat-rate of $1,500.00 – which includes up to ten (10) hours of face-to-face mediation time. You are both under enough stress going through a divorce and the last thing you need during a tense and emotional mediation session is to be constantly looking at your watch to see if you’re going over the next hour and will be charged for another hour of the mediator’s time. I believe you should not have to deal with any surprises about the cost of mediation and that is why I offer a flat-rate fee. Mediation is invariably far less expensive than going to court with attorneys and is designed specifically to promote agreement among the both of you and a less painful experience than a contested divorce.

What is included in the mediation fee?

I will meet with you both and mediate all the issues necessary to file for an uncontested divorce. The mediation session(s) will include:

  • reviewing your unique circumstances;
  • tailoring the needs to meet individual and collective goals;
  • collaborating to obtain desired outcomes regarding your unique circumstances;
  • facilitating discussions about insurance, taxes, alimony, assets & debts;
  • developing a choice of options;
  • formulating and securing negotiations;
  • assisting in the division of Assets & Liabilities (Equitable Distribution);
  • aiding in decisions regarding Shared Parental Responsibility, Time-Sharing and Child Support (if there are minor children of the marriage); and
  • engaging in private short sessions (called a Caucus) to promote negotiations.

Included at no additional charge or fee is:

  • drafting and preparing of the Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement;
  • drafting and preparing of the Parenting Plan (if minor child(ren);
  • calculating and preparing of the Child Support Worksheet (if minor child(ren);
    reasonable amount of telephone and/or email communication throughout the process that is related to scheduling, explanation of the mediation process or other general issues; and
  • providing a sample set of court forms for you to review and use as a reference when you fill-in the Court’s standard set of forms used to file for the uncontested divorce.

What is Eric's background and experience?

Eric B. Epstein is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Licensed Attorney in both Florida and New York, Certified Family Trauma Professional and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He graduated in 1991 from the NYU Stern School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance, and then in 1994 received his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. In 2018, he earned a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1995 and the Florida Bar in 2010.

Eric does not represent individuals in the divorce process. His focus is strictly on helping couples mediate their divorce-related issues. Eric has been practicing law for over 25 years and is dedicated to working in a peaceful and non-adversarial manner. He believes that more can be accomplished from looking at both sides of an issue and understanding each person’s reality given the context of their behavior and position. He is very patient and uses his diverse education and training to meet his clients’ needs.

Do you take sides? How does the process remain fair?

As a mediator, I maintain strict neutrality. I never take sides nor tell either spouse that they are “wrong,” “right,” “unreasonable,” “unfair” or any other subjective opinion. I work with the couple to facilitate negotiations – always with the focus that each spouse is the ultimate decision maker. I personally mediate all matters (unlike some other mediators who may “farm-out” the mediation to independent contractors or employees). I am here to make the process as smooth and safe and trusting as possible. Divorce can be scary and uncertain. Let Eric from PeacefulSplit® be your guides through this difficult process.

How do you handle different clients' cultures and values?

Respect for each client’s background, culture, values, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, country of origin, and other unique and important aspects of how each of us self-identify are extremely important to me. My years of education and experiences working with people from diverse backgrounds has instilled in me a high level of honor and sensitivity to the individual needs of people from various backgrounds. I do not judge you nor do I compare your situation or beliefs to anyone else’s. You are unique, and I respect you for being you. Mediation is about creating a process customized to the needs of each specific couple, and I focus on that goal from the very first time we speak and then meet together. If there are any particular needs that you or your spouse have with regard to the mediation process, I welcome your input and openness so that we can try to accommodate you as best as possible.

What if I or my children need therapy? Can you offer that service too?

Eric and his wife, Erica, also practice Marriage and Family Therapy through their private practice in Boca Raton, Florida, called Discovering Destinies, Inc. They work with individuals, families and couples dealing with a wide variety of issues, including issues related to all aspects of divorce (for adults, children and families).

Some couples may decide that they would like to try couple’s counseling before deciding on mediation.  When working with couples, Eric & Erica work in a co-therapy format. This is a unique experience where there are two clinicians working with the couple. 

If Eric works with a couple in mediation, he ethically can not and does not also provide therapy services to clients.  However, Erica is individually available to provide therapy services to either spouse or any children to help them work through their feelings and emotions and to make sense of the divorce. Therapy can help adults gain a new perspective and learn about their needs and dislikes in future relationships.

For children, divorce can cause them to feel confusion, guilt, loss, pain, or abandonment. Children may not be sure which parent they should "choose," or be loyal to. They might also worry they are the cause of the divorce. Children often worry they are to blame for the separation. Erica specializes working with children and teens to process these feelings, emotions, fears and the inevitable uncertainty and change that results from parents divorcing.

If Eric serves as mediator and Erica provides therapy services, neither of us discusses with one another any aspects of the respective services we are providing to you and your family, and we maintain strict confidentiality in our individual roles working with you.

More information about therapy services and the practice can be found on the following website: www.DiscoveringDestinies.com or by calling/texting 561-475-5800.

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