What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes and reaching agreements without court intervention. Mediation is not arbitration, it is facilitated negotiation. Patsy does not make the final decisions; she guides her clients through the decisions that they need to make.
What types of disputes & conflicts can be resolved by mediation?
Mediation can be used to resolve many types of disputes resulting from marital dissolution, separation of non-married couples, child custody and co-parenting. Patsy’s focus is divorce or separation, and premarital agreements.
Are agreements reached in mediation legal and binding?
The end product of the mediation process is a settlement agreement. This agreement, once it is signed by the parties, is a legally binding contract.
In a divorce or legal separation, the settlement agreement will become a part of the court order. Our office can prepare and file the court forms for a reasonable fee. No court hearing will be required.
What is necessary for us to begin mediation?
All that is necessary is a willingness to sit down with a mediator, willingness to share necessary information, and a commitment to work out an agreement that is fair to all concerned.
In the case of marital dissolution or separation, it is not necessary to have separated. It is not even necessary to have made a firm decision to end the relationship. It also does not matter whether one or both parties has seen or is still seeing an attorney.
How does the mediation process work?
Patsy guides the communication process between the mediating parties so that each has an opportunity to be heard. She focuses on understanding each person’s perspective so that the thoughts, feelings, and goals of each person can be heard in the room. Various options will be explored together.
In a dissolution there are disclosure requirements. You will be provided with worksheets to complete prior to and during the mediation so that the concrete information or hard data concerning the issues that need to be resolved is transparent.
Fairness must be defined by the mediating parties after considering all of the information they have developed.
Patsy provides legal information relevant to the dispute. Patsy may offer suggestions and help the parties to resolve the issues, but the final agreement is up to the mediating parties. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not make the decision for the parties.
How long is the mediation process?
The average number of visits to our office is two to six. Each visit typically lasts one and one-half to two hours and visits are scheduled at approximately three week intervals.
What is the cost?
Clients are charged Patsy’s hourly fee on a “pay as you go” basis. There is no retainer charged. When Patsy is ready to draft the settlement agreement she will estimate the amount of time she expects to spend (typically two to four hours) and requires a deposit towards that work. Additional time needed for drafting is charged at the hourly rate.
Do we both have to participate?
Yes, it is necessary for both parties to participate in mediation. Participants need not feel friendly towards one another but should be willing to work together with the mediator to make their needs known during the negotiation process and be willing to work together until satisfied that their agreements are fair. Patsy always meets with both parties together; she never has unilateral communication with parties to a mediation.
What are the ground rules of mediation?
The mediation process is confidential; what you say in mediation cannot be used against you if you have to go to court later. Additionally, Patsy will not be a witness for either of you. Patsy, as mediator, will not communicate by phone or in person with either client without the other being present or being involved in a conference call.
Patsy does not advise or represent either client individually. All relevant financial information must be furnished. Clients have the right to terminate mediation at any time and Patsy has the right to terminate mediation if relevant information is not being disclosed or if either client is unwilling to focus on a fair agreement.
Are the services of other professionals necessary for mediation?
Patsy does not require that you see another attorney. However, since she does not represent either party individually she will always recommend that you have the Marital Settlement Agreement reviewed by a consulting attorney before you sign it. There are circumstances in which the services of actuaries, accountants or business appraisers can be helpful.