Can’t We Just Sit Down Together and Sort This Out?
Lots of couples agree on many issues but get stuck on a few of the last thorny problem areas. Often communication breaks down when you try to talk these things out. At this point, you have a couple of choices. You can each go out and hire a lawyer, or you can hire a mediator. Retaining a lawyer will most likely cost you both a lot of money and will probably drive up the level of conflict between you and your soon-to-be-ex. For instance, even if you intentionally choose an easy-going lawyer, your ex may not – and when this happens, things can run off the rails quickly.
Divorce mediation is great way to tackle these tricky issues.
How Do You Know What Mediator Is Right for You?
The first thing you should find out when hiring a mediator is what method of mediation the professional utilizes.
For example, will you both be in the same room? Some mediators keep both parties in the same room all the time. This may be referred to as ‘caucus’ style mediation. Other mediators never have the parties in the same room. This type of mediation may be referred to as ‘shuttle’ style mediation.
The next question you should ask is whether the potential mediator follows a particular philosophical approach.
For example, some mediators strictly use a facilitative, interest-based method where they work to help you reach an agreement based solely on each party’s priorities. Other mediators use an evaluative method where they help you identify your priorities, listen to your position, evaluate how your position would be received by a court, inform you of their opinion, and offer potential solutions for resolving your differences to help nudge you toward settlement.
The Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Like it or not, when you divorce, the process of disentanglement may trigger legal consequences and mandate court involvement. When you get divorced, especially when children are involved, the court has an automatic stake in the process. Mediation offers you a path to minimizing court involvement and heightening your control over the outcome of your divorce or dissolution of domestic partnership. No matter what, the final court papers for your case will reflect either your agreements, or the decision of a judge.
Parents should always consider mediation as an alternative to resolving their disputes. Washington courts typically prefer to keep both parents involved in the child’s life. This means that contact between parents will likely continue for years after a divorce is final. It can be very, very difficult for parents to find a way to communicate after a costly and ugly court trial. Mediation can help you and the other parent pave the way for better future communication for the benefit of your children.
Divorce mediation can also be an incredible tool for parents with complicated work schedules or children with unique needs. The court is quite limited in the types of residential schedules and solutions it generally orders. The judges try to be creative, but they simply don’t have the time on a busy calendar to fashion custom-made parenting plans for every litigant. You know best what your kids need. Your final parenting plan may be the single most important document defining your child’s future. Do you really want to leave precious decisions about your child’s future up to a stranger who hears a couple of days of testimony and makes a quick cookie-cutter decision about your children’s future?
Other benefits of divorce mediation include:
- Mediation costs are shared.
- Mediation is generally significantly less expensive than going to trial.
- Mediation is even more cost-effective if you both choose to proceed without lawyers and are able to be amicable.
- Mediation lets you retain greater control over the outcome of your separation or dissolution. You can make decisions for yourself instead of waiting for a judge to make a decision for you.
- Mediation happens at your pace instead of progressing in response to court deadlines. You can move forward with your own separate life sooner.
- If you have children, you know the importance of “modeling” behavior for your children. Unlike trial, a successful mediation creates a good framework for your future parenting relationship and your children will know that their parents worked together for their benefit.
- Mediation can afford you the luxury of more creative problem-solving and outcomes that are beyond the ‘cookie-cutter’ confines of the court.
- Mediated agreements tend to be more “durable” because they are entered into by choice, not imposed upon each person. As a result, successful mediations tend to decrease returns to court in future years.
King County Divorce and Child Custody Attorneys
With offices in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond, Amanda DuBois and Monica Cary both serve as family law and divorce mediators. Because we have active litigation practices and ongoing current trial experience we can give you a realistic idea of outcomes in court.
There may be critical times during your mediation where you each lose your way on the path to resolution. At those times, the “reality check” of what might happen in court can be kind of like having a GPS that gets you back on track.
Both Amanda and Monica have years of experience in crafting parenting plans that meet the unique needs of different types of families. Once you enter the legal system you will discover that parenting plans are pretty involved and require lots of foresight. Your parenting plan will have to last you throughout your children’s lives, so you need to work with a mediator who can provide guidance and wise counsel.
At DuBois Cary Law Group, there are many ways we can help you with a successful divorce mediation.
Monica Cary and Amanda DuBois are both available to serve as mediators to people who want to negotiate a resolution to their divorce, custody, and domestic partnership disputes without going to court. During the mediation process, we will listen to your concerns, help you prioritize your goals, and explore creative ways to resolve your disputes. Our goal is to help you and your spouse or partner find some common ground through the process so that you can consciously choose your own agreements going forward.
There may be times when you and the other party are in the same room and times when you are in separate rooms depending on the circumstances of your situation. If necessary, we may utilize the expertise of one of the select parenting or financial professionals that DuBois Cary works with in our litigation practice to help you resolve your disputes.
If you are interested in the mediation services, let us know when you contact the office so that we can schedule a joint meeting with you and your partner or spouse. We do offer limited appointments outside of normal business hours for our mediation clients to better serve your needs. There are several styles of mediation and you will want to find out what style is best for you.
Mediation Consultation (Coaching) and Advocacy
Washington courts require all separating couples to make a good faith effort to resolve their disputes through mediation before they proceed to trial. Mediators are neutral third parties and cannot offer legal advice because their goal is to help settle your case. You may want to consider having outside counsel during the mediation process. All of our attorneys are experienced in assisting our clients through the mediation process.
If you are planning to attend mediation without counsel, we will help you bring your best to the process to boost your “mediation moxie.” While you work to resolve your disputes directly with the other party through a different mediation service, our lawyers will coach you independently every step of the way so that you can maintain your stamina through this dynamic process and effectively articulate your goals each step of the way. For example, we will meet with you before your first meeting with the mediator where you will learn about your legal rights and your risks under the law. We will strategize and discuss options with you so that you can make the most out of your time with the mediator by bringing solutions to the table.
Once you have a preliminary settlement worked out through the mediator, we will review the language in the settlement agreement for potential pitfalls and help you feel secure that you have a meaningful understanding of the agreement. If you are unable to reach an agreement without counsel and you wish to invest the money, our attorneys can also accompany you to sessions with the mediator or help you prepare to take a more aggressive approach if that becomes necessary.
Contact Our Law Firm
If you have further questions or want to arrange a confidential consultation, please contact us today. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond and can meet with you in one or both of those locations as needed. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve the solutions you seek.