As a mediator for more than 20 years, I work with people who would like to resolve their conflicts collaboratively and avoid litigation or other more formal, protracted, expensive and risky paths to resolution. That does not mean that people typically enter the mediation process with a shared agenda, nor do they necessarily “get along.” Nonetheless, a commitment to conflict resolution that enables the parties to craft their own settlement, rather than having it imposed upon them, can not only produce an equitable, mutually agreeable result. It can also lay the groundwork for cooperative future interaction.
While most of my mediation experience in the past 20 years has been with couples who are separating or divorcing, I have also mediated conflicts between adoptive and birth parents, colleagues in both employment and small business settings, parents and childcare providers, and staff members working for non-profit organizations.
In addition, I have extensive experience in co-parenting counseling, both court-ordered and voluntary, as well as with parent-child duos in which there has been a history of resistance to the co-parenting schedule. While I no longer work in that capacity, I also served for many years as a Special Master, or court-appointed advocate for the child charged with making decisions when parents cannot agree.
In working with clients on separation, dissolution and divorce, I assist them to arrive at a plan that maximally addresses the needs of all family members and provides for maximal cooperation and minimal future conflict. This often involves creating a parenting plan that attends to the developmental needs of the children and ensures continued parent-child relationships. I address all the issues that go into drafting a marital settlement agreement, or its equivalent in the case of nonmarital partners, including division of property and child and spousal support, should those obtain.
As a mediator who is not a lawyer, I require that my mediation clients that will be filing legal documents each have at least one consultation with an attorney, so that any agreement they enter into is made with confidence that they are making informed decisions, aware of what the law requires and how courts might rule were they to take a more adversarial route. This does not require retaining an attorney, simply having one available to consult as needed. Should either attorney raise a concern, we address the issue back in the mediation sessions. My goal is for clients to be comfortable in the assurance that they have considered all the options and have come to the best possible plan that takes into account the needs of all family members.
PROCEDURES AND POLICIES
While therapy usually involves sessions of one hour at intervals of a week or two, mediation usually involves longer sessions with more time in between meetings, although this can vary according to the urgency with which agreements need to be reached. The time between sessions usually varies depending on how long it takes to collect documents and data necessary to address financial matters.
I ask people to give me 24 hours notice if they need to cancel an appointment. Less than 24 hours notice results in a charge for the missed session.