What is Mediation?

Mediation is an informal, voluntary, and confidential way to resolve disputes.

In mediation, the parties work with a neutral person (a mediator) who has special training to help people solve a problem without going to court. Your mediator does not make decisions for you, and cannot tell you what to do. Rather, your mediator:

  • Educates you about the law without giving either of you personalized legal advice
  • Helps you communicate by interpreting and relaying information, and addressing the concerns of all parties without doing therapy
  • Frames issues for resolution, defines the problems giving rise to the dispute, and provides a structure to help people reach their own agreement
  • Facilitates the exchange of information needed so everyone can make informed decisions
  • Facilitates negotiation between the parties to enhance options generation and opportunities for creative problem-solving
  • Helps parties find common ground and manages unrealistic expectations so you can reach agreement
  • Prepares written documents memorializing your agreements to divorce, spousal support (alimony), child support, parenting plans, and modifications

What is shared in mediation remains private unless it is common knowledge or independently known by a third party. This gives people confidence to speak candidly with each other and the mediator about sensitive or difficult topics, and to safely brainstorm options for resolution.
Nancy conducts three basic types of mediations:

Why choose Mediation?

Separation and divorce are challenging experiences. These events can be costly financially, mentally, and emotionally for each party and their family members. Mediation focuses on negotiation, conflict resolution, and healing. It helps set the stage for future discussions and planning.

Mediation can apply whether or not the couple is used to resolving conflict in a peaceful way. Mediators demonstrate solid conflict resolution skills. Other professionals may be included in the discussions including financial planners, attorneys, counselors, child specialists, and mental health professionals.

How does Mediation work?

A divorce mediator works to bring balance and agreeable solutions to both parties involved. Instead of one party “winning” or dominating the other, both parties have an equal voice. The mediator is an unbiased professional who helps each person explore options and potential next steps.

A divorce mediator works towards agreeable solutions for each member of the family. They help couples consider their current roles and how this will change in the future. Financial planning and discussions are included in the process.

Am I a good candidate for Mediation?

The people who succeed in mediation have certain qualities.

  • They realize and accept that they need each other's cooperation to untie the emotional and financial knots of their marriage
  • They want to avoid court and negotiate fairly because they will be seeing each other regularly as they co-parent their children, and stay involved with family and mutual friends after divorce
  • They are willing to listen to and consider each other’s needs, interests, and concerns
  • They are willing to compromise

Sometimes people know they have these qualities but are not sure their partner does. Maybe their partner used to be trustworthy but doesn’t seem like that lately. If you are unsure about this, give Nancy a call for a free mediation phone consultation to discuss your concerns so Nancy can offer you the best guidance about whether mediation is right for you.

Will I need an attorney?

You may choose to select an attorney to assist with the mediation process. The lawyer acting as mediator may share generalized legal information. Your mediator cannot give either party personalized legal advice or opinions.

I recommend asking an independent attorney to review the final agreement prior to signing. Once the agreement is complete, it may be used to file an uncontested divorce.

What is decided during Divorce Mediation?

Depending on your situation, the following may apply:

Children

  • Child custody
  • Parenting time arrangement
  • Decision-making
  • Dispute resolution

Financial

  • Home
  • Bank account
  • Vehicles
  • Household items
  • Retirement, pensions, IRA’s, 401k’s, and other investment accounts or properties
  • Businesses owned
  • Premarital assets
  • Inherited property
  • Gifted property
  • Debts
  • Taxes

Support

  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • Child support
  • Insurance
  • Childcare expenses
  • Extracurricular expenses for child
  • Tuition, college etc.

Divorce basics

  • Timing
  • Payment of divorce professionals
  • Temporary arrangements
  • Disentanglement issues (such as bank accounts, cell phones, auto insurance)
  • Communication Plans

What are the benefits to Mediation?

Mediation provides many benefits over traditional divorce litigation. Most people comment that they like mediation because it:

  • Provides greater flexibility and control over the outcome
  • Takes less time to reach agreements
  • Is less expensive
  • Reduces heartache, anxiety and conflict
  • Is confidential and private
  • Is less formal-everyone’s needs and interests can be addressed
  • Preserves relationships, allowing for greater opportunities for post-divorce co-parenting and positive communication
  • Achieves better results with higher compliance rates than traditional litigation

How is Mediation different from going to court?

There are significant differences in mediation and court proceedings.

A mediator works to bring balance and agreeable solutions to both parties involved. Instead of one party “winning” or dominating the other, both parties have an equal voice. The mediator is an unbiased professional who helps each person explore options and potential next steps.

A mediator works towards agreeable solutions for each member of the family. A mediator helps couples consider their current roles and how this will change in the future.

A traditional divorce proceeding is adversarial, where the attorneys contend for the best scenario for their client. Often this can lead to increased negative feelings and encounters. This process may include subpoenas, lengthy discovery requests, and years of financial documentation and net worth statements.

Rather than focus on gathering as much information as possible to better leverage one party over the other, mediation focuses on working together towards resolution. The best result for all parties is desired and discussed.

Instead of a judge deciding on a divorce outcome, each party has more control over the end result.

My spouse is powerful; can I still be successful in Mediation?

Yes! The mediator will ensure that one party does not overpower the other. Often, mediation brings each party to an equal level for negotiation.

How does Mediation work if we don’t get along now?

Many couples are able to work through mediation when they don’t get along. Part of the mediator’s role is to help clients learn how to focus on the issue instead of attacking each other. High emotions can be tempered and peaceful discussions are possible.

How can we accomplish anything when we can’t talk to each other?

A well-qualified mediator has the skills and ability to encourage and focus communication. They help each party realize that by working together through this trying time, it can save emotional and financial cost over going to court.

The mediator will facilitate communication. They allow each party to speak uninterrupted, explain further when needed, and answer follow-up questions. The mediator will explain actions and potential consequences for decisions as well as alternatives that may be available.

Are there different ways to complete Mediation?

Yes, there are three main models practiced by divorce mediators. Some mediators may choose to practice only one of these models; you are encouraged to review and understand each at a high level. Nancy prefers a facilitative mediation model, especially when people engage mediation early in their process. When mediation happens late in a conflict, such as in the middle or at the end of a litigation process, she uses a more evaluative form of mediation to help disputants reach agreement. Transformative mediation is delicate, and Nancy draws on those skills based on the parties’ preferences and sensitivities to each other.

  • Facilitative mediation focuses on collaborative communication. The mediator typically provides options but may not provide his/her opinion on the fairness of that option. Most of the sessions with this model are joint sessions instead of individual, and the mediator will focus on communication between the two parties.
  • Transformative mediation is almost more therapeutic than facilitative. This model focuses on how you communicate with the other party and how to promote change effectively. Instead of solely seeking a settlement, the mediator will seek to help each party become empowered and improve communication.
  • Evaluative mediation could consist of either joint or individual sessions. The main goal in this model is to reach a settlement. The mediator will explain each party’s position and legal perspective as they work to secure a resolution for the issues.

Will I receive a legally binding agreement?

Yes, once the agreement is signed it is legally binding.

How do divorce court documents get filed?

Speak with your mediator about how to manage preparation and filing of the necessary court documents.

Will we have to appear in court?

No. One of the main benefits of mediation is that no court appearance is necessary.

Can other persons attend or participate in the Mediation session?

Professionals may attend, if both parties agree. The parties may bring a relative or friend for moral support in a limited capacity, if both parties agree. Speak with your mediator before bringing anyone with you to your mediation session.

What do I do first?

It’s easy. Contact us by email or call (360) 816-2246 for more information or to set up a private, free mediation phone consultation for you and your partner.

How do I talk to my partner about mediation?

Let your partner know it is your hope and goal to work together with your partner to find agreements that consider everyone's needs and are acceptable to all, and it is important to you that the two of you and not a judge make decisions for your family. Ask if he or she would be willing to look at this website and to participate in a free mediation phone consultation.

If you want to make an initial call by yourself, I am happy to talk to one of you to give you more information about the process and how mediation can work for both of you. As a mediator, I stay neutral especially in the first call. I don't discuss your personal situation until both of you are there so we avoid the problem of the other thinking I might have been somehow swayed to your side because you called first. Encourage your spouse or the parent of your child to call us too. I will gladly provide him or her the same information I gave you.

I can also send you an email about mediation that you can forward to your spouse when the time is right. That gets you out of having to try to explain things yourself.

When can I start mediation?

Many couples wait too long before looking into mediating. Collaborative family law and divorce mediation can work at any time, but you get the greatest satisfaction and value and save the most money if you both make it your first choice for resolving your separation, divorce, child support, parenting plan, visitation, and post-divorce disagreements.

What is a behavioral health specialist?

A behavioral health specialist has skills that very few lawyers do. The behavioral health specialists who work with Nancy have special training in marriage and family therapy, child development, divorce mediation, collaborative law, and communication techniques. They are uniquely qualified to help partners and parents manage emotions and express their interests and needs in a way that the other can understand, without doing therapy.

What is a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA)?

A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) has skills that very few lawyers do. The CDFA’s who work with Nancy have special training in financial planning or accounting, and are skilled in analyzing data related to the financial issues in a divorce. They are uniquely qualified to help partners understand their financial data and make a plan to restructure their finances and cash flow as single persons, without advising either partner about future investment opportunities.