Mediation is a way for people in conflict to find their own workable, practical and effective solutions. Mediators are impartial; they do not have the power to make decisions. They are guides; they help people communicate more clearly and productively about the conflict and to take part in constructive problem solving.
Key elements of mediation:
- The people involved, not the mediator, make the decisions
One of the most important aspects of mediation is that the people involved in the conflict have the chance to decide for themselves how to resolve their dispute.
- Mediation is private
You will meet with the mediator in a quiet and private setting. Attorneys may participate with the consent of all involved.
- Mediation is confidential
By law, all communications in mediation are confidential. Therefore, you are able to speak freely and candidly knowing that these discussions cannot be made public or revealed in court.
I have been helping families resolve many types of conflicts for more than 30 years. I have mediated disputes involving divorces, post-divorce changes, pre-marital agreements, and conflicts about estates and care for an elderly parent. The most important aspect of family mediation is that the decisions are made by the family members, not by a lawyer or judge. (For more information, see the FAQ section).
In divorce mediation, I work with couples to develop parenting plans that are right for them and their children. I assist them to identify their assets and debts and make a fair, workable division. And, I help them determine amounts for child support and, where appropriate, alimony.
After people divorce, there are often changes that require re-negotiation of their divorce agreement. Children grow older, financial situations change, one or both parents may remarry, one parent wants to move from the area. These are normal changes in the lives of families. When these events occur, divorced couples return to mediation to find reasonable and constructive ways to handle the changes.
When couples are preparing to marry, there may be important questions they want to address. Combining income and assets, deciding who pays what debts, determining how to parent step-children, and estate planning are all topics that I have helped couples resolve. These types of arrangements are also useful for couples who plan to live together but do not intend to marry.
Disagreements among family members about the care of an infirm or elderly parent may cause terrible stress, put a financial strain on the family members, and even pull families apart. I have helped adult children determine the type of treatment or facility is appropriate for their parent. Sometimes these mediations include family members as well as health professionals.
Probate and estate planning
Sometimes a will is silent or ambiguous about the distribution of assets. I have helped family members resolve conflicts over real estate and other property that were causing deep rifts within the family.
Among the most difficult conflicts in a family business are: succession—who will run the company after the elder member retires, management and financial decision making—dealing with conflicts among co-owners that can threaten the viability of the business, and sale of the business. These conflicts always have two dimensions—family relationships and financial dealings. I have helped families make reasonable and practical decisions that are based on family stability and fiscal responsibility.