HOW IT WORKS
The end of a marriage happens in different ways: a mutual journey by some, a game of catch up by others when one spouse begins the process. But here you are, ready to embark down this new path called divorce.
Take a moment to recognize how brave you are to acknowledge the need for change and to have the strength to follow through. And just as important, take a moment to recognize that, in choosing to explore the mediation process, you are beginning a complex juggling of your own and your spouse's needs juxtaposed against the love you both have for your children and your commitment to sustain your family.
It is your willingness to explore the mediation process that is most admirable. Your journey will call on all your abilities to compromise, to communicate, to be compassionate, to be generous and to be kind, especially at this moment in your life that can be wrought with great pain and loss for yourself, your spouse and your children.
The First Step
It usually happens that one person contacts me, but immediately we set up a meeting with the other spouse included. This ensures that you both have the same information and communications from me and that my relationship will begin with both of you at the same time. Even in the early stage of deciding whether mediation is the right choice, the balance of power has to be equable; you need to share equal ownership in the process and you both need to feel that you are on equal footing with me.
As the mediator, you are retaining me as your neutral third party. I do not advocate for either of you; my role is to facilitate your conversation and help you reach the best possible agreement for you and your family. You both have the right to obtain independent legal counsel, either while the mediation process is going on, or after we have drafted your Agreement so that your attorney an review this with your best interest in mind. However, remember that our goal is to come to resolution that is best for both of you - a middle ground compromise that I believe we can reach with respect and understanding. It is important that you share this intention with any attorney that reviews your final Agreement. You absolutely want to ensure that you are legally protected but you do not want your attorney to undermine the many hours of mediation, where you both worked so hard to create the divorce that you desire.
As a retired attorney I am able to explain the law to you and as a mediator I have helped couples evaluate their marital assets so that you can negotiate honestly and fairy. That said, the valuation of any items of property or for the full disclosure of your property, you and your spouse must rely upon each other or your own independent legal counsel or financial and real estate advisors.
Mediation From A Distance
If you do not live near my office, I use conference call and video conferencing capabilities as a means to facilitate the mediation process. The beauty of the technology that we have available enables the mediation process to continue in a way that fosters communication between all of us as we work towards the best resolution for you both and your family.
I have held countless mediations using this technology and find that it allow for the authentic interaction that we need to make the mediation successful.
When we meet for the initial, free consultation I make both the conference call and the video conferencing options available so that you can get a sense of what it feels like to work in this manner as you move towards deciding if I am the best match to help you during this time in your lives.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
The most important factor in allowing the mediation process to be successful is your ability to advocate effectively for yourself. This is especially important when you are also looking out for the needs of your children. It is a challenging balance that many fail to achieve. On a daily basis we take care of our kids, or our partners and we forget our own needs.
Now, during this emotional and challenging time, it is that much more important to self-care as during the mediation you will be balancing your own needs, your own assets, your own financial well-being, emotional stability, care and safety against your children's feelings of stability, their sense of connection to both parents, their fear of the unknown and their emotional struggles.
Your Financial Commitment To The Process
The financial arrangement is that each spouse assumes the responsibility for half the mediation cost—either by paying through joint a account or each paying individually their share of the mediation fee. This payment can also be balanced against your financial and property settlement as we work through the separation of your assets. Through experience, I have found that when a person commits financially to a process they own it, and that is essential for the mediation to work.
Your financial commitment is a $5,600 ($2,800 for each person) flat fee for the entire mediation.
You will have a separate filing cost to file your divorce with the court. And, if you choose not to complete your divorce forms or your filing by yourself, you will have additional costs associated with a paralegal or a Legal Document Assistant (LDA, an experienced professional authorized under California law to prepare legal documents that you retain for that purpose). We can discuss this more at your consultation so that I can help you decide the best way for you both to proceed.
And My Commitment To You
The $5,600 covers the entire mediation process from review of all documents to all joint meetings with you to the time spent drafting your Agreement. There are no other hidden fees and no surprise costs at the end of the mediation.
I do not charge for emails or one to one phone calls.* If you have questions, concerns or just need to check in, you will not be charged. I believe that I cannot properly work for you if I do not understand what you are feeling, what you are struggling with, or what you have questions about. And I cannot properly discover these things if you hesitate to call me because you are worried about costs.
My goals is to make this process as cost effective and as supportive as I can, so that you have one less thing to worry about as you navigate through your divorce.
*Any individual communications with either party will be documented in an email to you both.
My Goal is to have you come out of this very difficult time in your lives with your emotions and your finances intact