What is Mediation?
At its core, mediation is a process which empowers participants to resolve their disputes. It is a guided, constructive conversation to explore issues and consider possible solutions that work for everyone. The decisions that come out of mediation are reached by mutual agreement of the participants.
My job as your mediator is to help you make those decisions by guiding the process, so it is constructive and focused on each person’s interests. It is your job as a participant to constructively participate and explore solutions that work for everyone. As your mediator, I work with all participants to talk through their issues and concerns in a constructive manner so we can hear and understand each other. Mediation focuses on the present and the future. We take one issue at a time and explore that issue based on the needs, interests and concerns of all parties. We are problem-solvers. We explore possible solutions, consider them, evaluate them, until we have one that all participants agree works.
As a mediator, I do not take sides or make decisions for you. I am not an attorney for either participant, and I do not give legal advice. I remain neutral so I can assist all participants in having a constructive conversation to explore the issues and the possible solutions that work for everyone. I encourage participants to seek their own independent legal advice. Participants who understand their legal rights and obligations are more informed when they come to mediation.
At the conclusion of mediation, I prepare a written Mediation Summary of Understanding to document the agreements the participants reach in mediation. I encourage participants to seek legal advice prior to signing their agreement. Participants and their attorneys may need to seek court review and approval of agreements reached in mediation.
Mediation has many benefits:
- Participants maintain control over the timing and process of making decisions.
- The focus in mediation is on problem-solving and not proving your case against the other party. This allows the participants to move forward using a more cooperative decision-making process.
- Mediation gives participants the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, without risking the uncertainty of a judge making decisions for them.
- It provides privacy because there is no contested court trial where your private matters and financial information is aired in public.
- When participants resolve their issues in mediation, they are more likely to be satisfied with the results and to live up to their agreements.
- Mediation is typically less time consuming than a contested trial. A typical divorce mediation takes 1-2 months, while a contested case that goes to trial can take 1-2 years or more.
- Mediation is much less costly than a traditional contested case that goes to trial or even a case negotiated between two attorneys for their clients.
Mediation may not be the right process for everyone or for every circumstance. If someone cannot freely and competently assert their needs and make decisions for themselves, then mediation is not appropriate.
What family law issues can be mediated?
Couples seeking a divorce can mediate all the issues to reach a complete settlement, including identifying their separate and marital property, dividing their marital property and debts, establishing custody and parenting arrangements for their minor children, and addressing support issues for a spouse or children.
CLARIFICATION OF EXISTING PARENTING PLAN
Sometimes parents have on-going issues or conflicts with each other regarding their existing parenting plan and use mediation to talk though those issues in a constructive way. Some parents just need the opportunity to talk through issues with each other without making any changes to their current parenting plan. Other parents want to change their current parenting plan.
CUSTODY OR PARENTING PLAN MODIFICATION
Parents sometimes want to mediate possible changes to their existing parenting plan. The needs of children can change over time, parents move, financial situations change, and sometimes parents need to resolve issues related to these changing circumstances.
PATERNITY CUSTODY OR PARENTING PLANS
Never-married parents who need to create or change custody, parenting arrangements, and/or support for their children can mediate these issues.
SAME SEX MARRIAGES AND PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS
Couples in same sex relationships and marriages face some of the same issues set forth above, and can face additional issues, depending on their circumstances. Mediation provides these couples the opportunity to address all these issues.