Call Divorce Mediation in California – Shelley MacEwen
Mediation saves time, money and heartache. Save your children from the anger of divorce. They will appreciate it…
Mediation saves time, money and heartache. Save your children from the anger of divorce. They will appreciate it…
Confidentiality of the communications that occur between the child and the mediator is an area worthy of discussion.
It would seem that in order to advocate for a child, the child needs to feel comfortable that what is shared is not to be disclosed. After the interview is completed, the child may be unwilling to have some or all of the communications disclosed. The mediator should abide by the child’s preference.
The child may be unwilling to directly speak to the parents and would prefer the mediator to act as an advocate for them. If the mediator feels it is appropriate that the child share their feelings, the mediator can invite the parents into the room.
Cautions needs to be exercised if the feelings the child is about to share may be damaging to the relationship of the child to their parent(s). The mediator would need to speak with the parents before speaking in an attempt to minimize the potential problems associated with the sharing of information for the child.
There are some serious issues that need to be considered when contemplating involving a child in the mediation process of child custody disputes.
The child will be at the center of the custody battle between the parents. How detrimental will this be if the child is included in any part of this process? Is the information gleaned worth the potential damage to the child? Should a mental health professional be present at the mediation? Is t is appropriate to suggest that after the mediation process has concluded, the child see a mental health professional as a follow up?
Children are often confused about their parents’ divorce. They have a limited amount of coping strategies available to them at every given age. The younger ones, up to the age of 5, may react by regressing. The children ages 6-8, tend to cry more or long for the absent parent. The older ones, 9-12, tend to get angry and blame one or the other parent for the divorce and the adolescents tend to be slightly more expressive and accusatory, blaming their parents for leaving.
Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms are most readily apparent during the earliest stages of divorce, the time when mediation is often employed as a means for the parents to cope with their changes. Is it appropriate to involve a child at this phase of their life?
By involving the child, is mediation already adding to the difficulties that are already being experienced? Many children will feel guilty for choosing one parent over another or for causing additional tensions between their parents. They may be criticized or punished after the mediation session is over.
A mediator needs to be, mindful of these issues and address them directly with the child and with the parents. It may be helpful to have a mental health professional present to assist the child if they run into difficulties, or to make a follow up appointment with a counselor after the mediation has concluded to insure proper behaviors are being exhibited by all parties.
What is the involvement or lack thereof in the mediation process saying to the child? There are some children who will feel an inappropriate sense of power as a result of their ability to influence their parents’ decisions. They may also feel that they have some form of control over their parents and exploit it for their own benefit.
On the other hand, some children may feel a sense of powerlessness, because, they were unable to have their feelings and/or preferences heard and will hesitate to express them in the future. If they are left out of the process altogether, there may always be a question in the child’s mind as to what was said and how accurately their feelings were represented.
Being an advocate for the child in mediation is a delicate role. The decision to advocate should be made after careful consideration is given to all factors. If any of the steps above are omitted, I believe a mediator role as an advocate will be compromised.
The paramount concern to the mediator should be the effect both short and long term on the child. For if the child is adversely affected by the process, the mediator who advocates for the child’s best interest will have failed to do so.
As trained and experienced mediators, we take all parties into consideration. If you have questions or concerns, please call us today at 818-483-6786 for a confidential consultation.
These are the first words I utter whenever someone I know, or have met, says they are going to be suing someone. And yes, the California divorce process is one party suing another. However, the divorce mediation process is different – it is two parties making an agreement. If you are contemplating suing anyone for anything, consider mediation.
There are many advantages to mediation, few drawbacks and no reason not to give it a try. The worst that happens is that you have spent some money and some time, but in exchange you do get some information from the other side which can be helpful if you decide to proceed to the court house. Get the best divorce mediation information available first before going to court.
This is not to say you should use mediation as a tool for discovery, but instead, consider it an opportunity to organize yourself, prepare for battle and hope to reach a settlement which is fair and one you can live with.
Mediation has increased in popularity as the costs of litigation have skyrocketed. Mediation is an alternative method of dispute resolution which encourages direct communication between the disputing parties. Proponents of the mediation process believe that these structured communications can result in a long lasting effective agreement because they are borne of the parties’ voluntary efforts and not those of their attorneys.
Mediation is also a process that is much faster than the court system. This is partly due to the over burdened court calendar and also due to the popularity of litigation, finding the most effective and prevailing attorneys often unavailable. A typical mediation takes approximately seven hours to complete. It is therefore both cost effective and time sensitive.
Mediation often results in a preservation of relationships. It is not adversarial, not confrontational, and often times find the parties able to compromise. By its nature, the parties are forced to communicate, if not directly with each other, then through the mediator.
Oftentimes, the parties have learned something about each other, have focused on the underlying cause of the dispute and willingly reach agreement.
Mediation allows you to have control over your litigation. This is tremendously important. One never knows if the judge has had a prior experience with someone you remind them about. Perhaps you were that girlfriend who jilted him in the 10th grade, or the guy on the field who unfairly tagged him out. Or you might have been the guy who broke her heart or the girl who stole the love of her life.
Everyone has a history, walking into a court room risks the judge’s opening up your past and having it become your present and future. A very well known family law attorney is quoted as saying “try to avoid the person in the black robe at all costs. You never know what that person will do with your case”.
If you are facing a situation where you foresee ‘black robes’ in your future, call 818-483-6786 today and let us help you settle your issues in confidential mediation – rather than as a matter of public record in the open court room. We specialize in divorce mediation in Ventura County and we can help! Hire a divorce attorney that talks to you about divorce mediation first.
Why? Because once most, not all, attorneys who practice primarily litigation involving dissolution of marriage and child support and custody issues get a case, they view them as a continuing stipend.
The more court hearings they can force, the more money they can make. The more assets they can convince their client they are entitled to, whether true or not, the more conflict and angst they can conjure up and the more money they can ensure themselves during the long drawn out fight that accompanies the litigation fiasco.
I have seen literally dozens and dozens of cases end in mindless and needless court battles, because the attorneys have created issues out of whole cloth. Any of these would have been better served through mediation in California.
They have stirred the pot, like witches brew. Is their interest what is best for their client, or what is best for them? I am sorry to say, that in so many cases, my colleagues put their interests, ahead of their clients.
Because of this pretense marital cases can cost the husband and wife thousands of dollars. I was personally involved in one marital dispute in which the wife was represented by one of the top boutique marital dissolution law firms in Beverly Hills.
There was a large corporation involved, which I represented, and the husband was represented by a two person well known law firm. The wife’s law firm had two partners and several associates sitting around a conference table during the rented judge trial while the husband had one.
The wife’s attorneys’ had her believing she could get ½ of the corporation and run it, when she had never stepped foot in it and her husband had been running it for years extremely successfully and with an independent board of directors. Telling her she would get to run the business and that her husband would do everything to steal money and keep her from getting anything was an abominable lie meant to exacerbate her already vicious feelings about her husband, with the only reason being the lining of the law firm’s pockets.
I witnessed this Beverly Hills law firm charging well over $1,000.00 per hour for a three week trial and that was subsequent to my attempting to settle the corporate issues for a very fair amount of money and future participation in profits, which would have been huge, with her own accountant able to review all financial records of the company.
I offered this settlement even before a trial was set. After the three week trial the wife’s lead attorney came to me to settle the corporation’s part of the case for $17MM after taxes were paid. This for a corporation that was, at that time showing a profit of well over $17MM the prior year and was growing at the enormous rate of twenty percent a year. My offer prior to trial was well over twice as much, but it was rejected and now the wife’s attorney was coming to me with this ridiculous offer to settle.
You see, the firm had already exceeded $1MM in fees and I am quite confident did not want to finish the trial which had gone on for, as I wrote above, three weeks, because they knew their client was never going to be able to run the corporation, even though that was what they promised their client they would get for her.
As much as I wanted to protect the wife from this disastrous settlement, I was representing the corporation and bound by ethical duty not to do so.
I cringed when I went to my client, the corporation, and told its board about my settlement, because I knew how incredibly low it was, but I accomplished my job. On the other hand the wife’s law firm essentially thrown her under the proverbial bus. These kinds of stories unfortunately happen every day. It happens in all types of litigation, but more in family law than any other litigation.
So how do you avoid these tremendous fees and bad outcomes?
You seek good mediators who have no skin in the game and who only care about doing one thing. That one thing is seeing to it that the parties reach a resolution of their case at the least possible cost, both financially and emotionally.
As mediators we help guide you through the process of developing your own resolution of divorce mediation or any mediation settlement. By being the master of your own destiny you own the process and decisions as opposed to attorneys and a judge.
When you own the decision you feel better about yourself and, in many cases, your spouse or other party with whom you may be locked in conflict. This helps to take much of the emotion out of the mediation which is especially important when dealing with issues involving children insofar as you and your spouse may have years of co-parenting children well under the age of eighteen and continuing your relationship with your children’s families.
Many times women feel more comfortable with a female mediator and men with a male mediator. This is why we have developed the concept of cross gender mediation.
To avoid this preference issue, both a man and woman are offered to facilitate these cases at the cost of the usual single mediator. This company has as its major goal, keeping people who are at their most vulnerable condition, focused on their children first, if there are any, and their assets and liabilities as opposed to the unconstructive feelings that have lead them to this stage of their marriage, and to do so at a cost that will not deplete the parties bank accounts.
Call us today at 818-483-6786 and let us help you control the costs of settling your disputes.
Is a Mediation settlement legally binding?
Yes, either the mediation will close with a signed agreement, or if attorneys are representing the parties they will commit to ending the lawsuit with a formal settlement and release agreement. We always recommend a formal agreement is prepared before the parties leave the mediation. Some courts require that process, particularly if a case in litigation is required to go to mediation prior to the commencement of the case
What if we can’t reach agreement?
You are free to return to the conflict, or if litigation has not commenced, to bring your matter to litigation or arbitration, if you choose to do so. The mediation process you have gone through remains confidential, and your mediator cannot be called to testify in court, if you choose to litigate after mediation. In fact, all parties, their attorneys and anyone else who may participate in the mediation process are obligated to keep every aspect of the mediation confidential. The only information that will be disclosed is information that either of the parties give their permission and approval to the mediator or anyone else to disclose.
How does mediation differ from arbitration?
In mediation the parties have total control of the process and outcome. Mediators are experts in moving the process along, but not decision-makers. The actual decision makers are the parties themselves. A mediator will help parties to reach agreements, but cannot compel or dictate the terms of settlement. This means if you choose to settle the entire matter or certain issues during the mediation process and the other side does also, your matter will be resolved and you will not have to go through the expense and pain of litigation of either the whole case or at least those that you have, by agreement, narrowed. Do I need an attorney? Not necessarily, and many times attorneys can be very expensive and impose their own will on your case or issues. I am a practicing attorney, but I, quite frankly, got tired of being referred to as a “bulldog”, “Pit-bull”, “A-hole” and litigating for my clients who, in many cases only filed lawsuits to force settlements regardless of the true facts. I eventually realized this wasn’t what I went to law school for. I wanted to be more altruistic so I decided rather than be part of the problem, to be part of the solution. Mediation gave me the opportunity to be a non-adversarial attorney with “no skin in the game” so I could help direct the settlement process. Some attorneys will help you do this, but most litigators I have usually found will not. Without spelling out the reasons, I am quite confident you can guess what they are. Is there a role for my attorney should I have one? Your attorney can play an important role if he/she is in favor of the mediation process, by advising you, clarifying legal issues, and helping to draw up agreements, although we provide the same services for far less money. We are accustomed to working closely with parties and their attorneys to further the shared goal of resolution. Do we receive a percentage of the settlement? No. Mediators work on an hourly fee basis. This fee can be paid by one or both parties, in any allocation agree upon. In some cases a fixed fee rate can be agreed upon instead.
What makes our approach unique?
We offer a unique way of mediating your matter. By offering you the opportunity to utilize the talents of our mediators in a cross gender, cross faith, cross disciplinary based approach, you are able to have a highly unique form of mediation not found in other mediation services. You can receive both a male and female perspective on a matter from professionals who differ in several ways, each of which is highly beneficial in the settlement process. Our male mediator is an attorney with over thirty-three years of litigation experience. He has participated in hundreds of mediations and is a recipient of a Certificate of Mediation from Pepperdine University’s Strauss Institute. He is also a current or past board member of several Christian organizations as well as a past member of his church council. He brings to your mediation a unique approach to conflict resolution. Our female mediator has a Master of Dispute Resolution from the Strauss Institute at Pepperdine and is uniquely qualified in all aspects of mediation, from marital and child custody, to animal matters and she hold a real estate agents license. She is versatile and broad based. Her eleven years of experience within the court system and in private practice, allows her to offer a layperson’s perspective of the advantage of the mediation process.
So, if you want to spend far less money, attempt to resolve your cases quickly, have a chance of maintaining a relationship, particularly in divorces with children, the only thing that makes good sense is mediation.
In summary, you and those in conflict with you are the arbiters of your own issues and case; you and those in conflict with you have a referee who is impartial and will bring to the table lessons learned through mediation courses, cases he has been involved with on behalf of clients, and who greatly appreciates the process and has tools to help move the process toward resolution; you and those in conflict with you hold the keys to whether or not you settle the entire matter, some issues, or nothing at all.
Call Divorce Mediation in California - Shelley MacEwen Mediation saves time, money and heartache. Save your children … [Read More...]
Confidentiality of the communications that occur between the child and the mediator is an area worthy of … [Read More...]
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