Early stage facilitative mediation keeps people out of court and is informal and tailored to the unique needs of each family.
Mediators are trained, neutral professionals who help a divorcing couple have a conversation that will result in a settlement that meets everyone’s needs. Mediation can resolve issues including division of property, child custody and parenting time, child support, alimony and allocation of debt, as well as other family law issues such as grandparent visitation, moving away, and pet custody.
Unlike court-ordered mediation, early stage facilitative mediation is a process initiated by the divorcing couple, who generally reach a resolution of all issues before the divorce is even filed. Attorneys generally do not participate in the meetings although parties are encouraged to seek independent legal advice regarding settlement proposals.
By the time the divorce case is filed in court, the parties have resolved most or all of their issues through mediation. The actual legal proceeding is simply to formalize the settlement agreement in a final divorce judgment, without the acrimony and stress of a long, drawn-out court battle. Early stage facilitative mediation is less costly than an adversarial divorce proceeding, saving both money and emotional costs. It also provides a reliable framework for how to handle the family issues mentioned above throughout the process of getting divorced.
I offer my mediation clients the option of working either solely with me, or to engage a co-mediation team comprised of myself and social worker/attorney Siri Gottlieb. Siri is a gifted mediator with a strong family therapy background, and she brings to mediation special appreciation of the emotional needs of each party. She also provides insight into various options for devising a parenting schedule based on the developmental needs of the children. You can read more about her at sirigottlieb.com.
Co-mediation is a great way to work through both legal issues and the emotional hot buttons that may stand in the way of achieving a positive settlement. Having both an attorney and a mental health professional on your team often makes the mediation more efficient, and co-mediation fees remain very affordable.
Early stage facilitative mediation is not for everyone. It is not recommended in cases involving domestic violence, for instance. If you have questions, I encourage you to call for more information.