Mediation is a non-adversarial structured process that provides an alternative to the expense and emotional turmoil of divorce litigation. The goal of the mediation process is to reach a settlement that both parties accept. Mediation promotes cooperation and discussion and discourages arguing. Mediation does not reduce or eliminate anger and it is not therapy or counseling. Rather, the mediation process recognizes anger and manages it by encouraging cooperation and compromise. The key component of mediation is that the final resolution is determined by the parties themselves rather than being imposed by a judge.
Mediation is a voluntary process and requires that both parties want to resolve their differences rather than prolong or “win” their dispute. As a mediator I am a neutral party and I cannot order either party to do anything. I can help to diffuse emotions and guide you through the difficult issues that regularly arise in divorce situations. Through my extensive training and litigation experience, I have dealt with virtually every issue involved in the dissolution of a marriage including the distribution of marital property and debts, child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support.
If the parties make a concerted effort in the process, mediation can be less stressful, less expensive, faster, and easier on the children than conventional litigation. An important advantage of mediation over litigation is that you and your spouse are able to craft a settlement which is tailored to meet the needs of your family. During litigation, the Judge learns a small amount of information about the parties in a brief period of time. A Judge will not take the time to “micro-manage” each case. For example, visitation schedules during mediation can be designed to take into consideration your children’s extra-curricular activities and what time they go to bed. Judges who operate within an overloaded Court system simply do not have the time to address these types of details in their decisions. A visitation Order entered by the Court usually will not be custom tailored to the specific requirements of your family and therefore may not be beneficial for either side.
While every case can be mediated, sometimes due to emotional or other factors, not every person can effectively participate in the mediation process. A mediator cannot force one side to “give in” or make someone who is irrational suddenly cooperative. I often tell mediation participants that a good resolution is one in which neither side is completely satisfied. As long as both sides are sincerely participating in the process I believe most issues can be resolved through candid discussions led by someone who knows what is likely to happen if the case is ultimately decided by a judge.
If an agreement is reached, I recommend that each party get an attorney to review the proposed agreement before it is signed. If the process breaks down and does not result in a negotiated settlement, the litigation option always exists. As your mediator, I cannot represent either side in litigation nor can I participate as a witness in the litigation on either side’s behalf.
The mediation process generally begins with an initial one hour consult attended by both parties. Assuming that the decision is made to go forward, additional sessions are scheduled. If the mediation process sounds right for you, please do not hesitate to call or email me to schedule your initial consultation.