Family Law Mediation
Mediation allows the parties in a family related dispute to decide the outcome of these very personal matters rather than ask a Judge to make those decisions. As an experienced family law attorney and mediator, I can assist you in doing so. It is my job to foster communication, brainstorm ideas, teach empathy and assist both of you in the decision making process.
During mediation, we help you and your soon to be ex-spouse make decisions about your own divorce and what is best for the both of you and most importantly, your children. In mediation, we help you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible. The issues covered include but at not limited to:
The goal of mediation is to reach agreements. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and hard work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when I intervene. It is my job to foster productive communication, brainstorm ideas, teach empathy and assist both of you in the decision making process. I help keep both of you focused on the issues at hand while moving forward to an amicable resolution.
Mediation is flexible and confidential. It gives you and your spouse a way to settle the conflict between you in a way that helps you to work together as parents. This is extremely important if you have children and must interact with your ex-spouse after you are divorced. Mediation brings about communication between both of you, which can then be used when you must discuss issues in pertaining to the children. Lack of communication may have been one of the main reasons for your divorce. Mediation has the ability to help you learn to communicate again, if only for the sake of the children, and improve your post-divorce relationship.
As a divorce mediator, I am neutral and don’t “work” for either party. That means I can not give advice to either party. I remain neutral no matter what the situation.
Ultimately, we hope to formulate agreements that will stand the test of time. Because we are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to both spouses.
Mediation is voluntary. It continues only for so long as all three of us – you, your spouse, and I — want it to. Mediations can be conducted weekly, every two weeks, monthly or how ever often you want them to be.
Why should I mediate?
Deciding how to handle issues relating to your family, your finances and your future in a family law matter are very important, and litigation is often an unproductive and unsatisfactory way to handle those important issues. The mediation process creates a supportive and constructive environment that promotes communication and strives to balance any power differences that may exist. Mediation can reduce the stress most people experience when divorcing or addressing other family law-related issues by working together amicably toward a fair resolution. Mediating your case will typically take much less time, save you money and, most importantly, allow you to make these important decisions on your own, rather than asking a judge to make those decisions for you.
What is the cost for mediation?
The total cost for mediation will depend on how much time is needed to complete the mediation process. Ms. Olson’s hourly rate for mediation is $280 per hour for time spent in mediation sessions, as well as for time spent preparing for or summarizing the mediation session, if any. Typically, these fees are split equally between the parties, unless there is an agreement, or a court orders otherwise. It is expected that payment will be made in full at the end of each session. We accept cash, checks, MasterCard, VISA and Discover.
How long is each mediation session?
The session is typically scheduled for three hours each. However, it may proceed longer if time permits and the parties and mediator agree that it would be appropriate and beneficial to continue. You should plan on three to four hours for each session. Starting times are generally 9:00 a.m. (morning session) and 1:30 p.m. (afternoon session), Monday through Friday.
Do I have to hire an attorney before I can attend mediation?
No. You can participate in mediation if you are not represented by an attorney. However, the mediator is a neutral third party and cannot provide any legal advice.
Does my attorney attend mediation with me?
That decision is best made between an attorney and his or her client and if you have an attorney representing you, you should discuss the options very carefully. However, the parties in family law matters typically have their attorneys present in mediation to assist and advocate for them during the mediation process.
If your attorney does not attend mediation with you, you will be encouraged to consult with him or her during the mediation process. Although Ms. Olson is a family law attorney, as a neutral mediator she cannot give legal advice to any party.
If my attorney does not attend, how does he or she know what happens in mediation?
In the vast majority of cases, Ms. Olson will prepare a memorandum or other written document memorializing what occurred in mediation and the agreements that were reached. Occasionally, Ms. Olson will hold a telephone conference with the parties’ attorneys to keep them advised and involved in the mediation process.
What if the other party does not wish to attend?
Mediation is a voluntary process, although the court has the authority in some cases to order parties to participate in mediation.
Unless the court orders mediation, a person cannot be forced to attend or participate in mediation and the mediator does not have any authority to require a party to attend a mediation session.
Can I schedule a consultation meeting with the mediator?
We do not schedule consultations prior to mediation. In order to remain neutral, Ms. Olson typically has no contact with the parties prior to the first mediation session, Most of our mediations result from attorney referrals and court appointments, and thus, are based on Ms. Olson’s highly regarded skills as a mediator
How many sessions will we need to resolve our issues?
There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on many factors, such as the number and types of issues to be resolved and the ability of the parties to reach agreements. Some cases require only one or two sessions for resolution, while others may require several more.
Will we have to meet in one room with the mediator?
Ms. Olson welcomes and encourages both parties (and attorney, if present) to meet in the same room. However, that is determined on a case-by-case basis because we recognize that it may be difficult. No one is forced to meet in the same room with another party if they are unable or unwilling to do so. Even if a mediation session begins with both parties in the same room, it is not uncommon to break into individual caucuses or sessions alone with the mediator. Ms. Olson will then facilitate the mediation by going between each individual room.
It is important that each party is as comfortable as possible in the mediation session. If you are unwilling or unable to meet in the same room with the other party, please make that known when you schedule your first mediation appointment.
What information does the mediator need from me?
What information does the mediator need from me? You will receive an introductory letter and packet by mail or e-mail, once your initial mediation has been scheduled. This will include forms that you should complete and return prior to that first mediation. Ms. Olson will review this paperwork before you arrive so that your mediation time is utilized most efficiently. It is important that we receive complete and thorough information before your first session. If you are unable to provide all information prior to your first session, please bring it with you to the first session, including all supporting documentation.
If there are any court documents that are needed, you and/or your attorney will also be asked to forward copies at least one day prior to your first mediation session.
Can I contact the mediator directly to discuss my case?
A mediator must remain neutral at all times. Absent express agreement, Ms. Olson will not have contact with parties outside of mediation.
Will the mediator prepare the paperwork for the court?
No. Drafting of legal paperwork is the role of an attorney who is representing you. Typically, legal document drafting requires advocacy on your behalf. Because the mediator is neutral, she cannot take on that role.
What do I do next?
When both parties agree to mediate, you should contact Mary at 651-342-1856 to schedule your first mediation session.