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The first working day of January each year is considered D-Day in my world. Lots of couples who “just wanted to get through the holidays for the kids” often file for Divorce on that day, hence why it is called D-Day.

            There are two main ways to get divorced in Connecticut: Litigation and Mediation.  In a litigated divorce, each party is represented by counsel and if it is not amicable, it can be acrimonious. In fact, it can become like a war. Mediation is the complete and total opposite: it is cordial and collaborative.

            If you are contemplating a Divorce in 2024, ask yourself these questions:

                        Are you struggling with your marriage?

                        Do you wish you could get divorced quickly?

                        Has it been difficult to hire a lawyer?

                        Do you have some semblance of an agreement?

                        Have you often wanted to get a divorce but just didn’t know where to start?

            Mediation is the answer to all of these questions:

            Divorce mediation is a simple, quick and powerful way to dissolve a marriage in a non-adversarial way. It’s also incredibly discreet. In mediation, you will have the opportunity to negotiate your own settlement privately rather than have one imposed on you publically by the Court.

            In mediation, you retain control of your own future and that of your family, if you have children.

            The process of mediation is based on a mutual agreement to come together and end your marriage on terms that are acceptable to you both.

            I am a Lawyer and Divorce Litigator and Mediator so I can speak from years of experience. The function of a Mediator is to assist you and your spouse in reaching a settlement. The Mediator’s task is to get you to a settlement that you both can live with; and if there are children involved it will include a Parenting Plan that you can operate with while co-parenting.

            The Mediator will use negotiation, facilitation, dispute-resolution and legal skills to help you identify areas of agreement and disagreement, and areas where legal issues may arise. When you disagree, the Mediator will point out how a Court might look at the issue and provide you with alternative solutions. All final decisions will be yours and your spouse’s.

            The Mediator is not your lawyer (and doesn’t cost as much as having a lawyer!). The Mediator will not represent either of you and cannot be your individual lawyer or the lawyer for both of you.

            You may need other professionals during the course of your Mediation but most likely not. In some rare cases, complex legal issues may arise, the need to value property and tax questions may come up. Therefore, you or your spouse may need to obtain your own independent legal counsel, seek tax advice or hire a real estate agent or appraiser.

            The Mediator will conduct mediation sessions with you (I do them virtually or in person at my office in Orange). The Mediator will assist you in drafting the initial dissolution paperwork, separation agreement and parenting plan.

            This is the way I work: The legal fee for the mediation is a flat fee to be quoted after a free initial consultation. You will also be responsible to pay all fees and costs associated with the dissolution action, including but not limited to the Court filing fee, and Marshal’s cost of service, if service is not waived. All divorces, whether mediated or litigated, must be filed in a Court of Law in order for a Judge to render a Judgment of Dissolution, dissolving your marriage and adjudicating you single and unmarried.

            I shepherd you through the entire process.

            If the mediation is done correctly, you will never have to see a Judge and you will be divorced “on the papers.”

            Not all mediators are the same or operate the way I do. You should interview a few mediators and make sure you are comfortable with the person you and your spouse choose to hire.


Byline: Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray is the owner of Consumer Legal Services, LLC, a debt relief agency in Orange helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code, among other legal services such as divorce litigation and mediation.