Mediation is a forward-looking process, where the goal is to build an agreement that meets each party’s needs. A successful mediation is one where each party can speak freely, feels heard, feels understood and is able to listen and understand the other party’s perspective. It is not simply a negotiation, although negotiating can certainly be part of the mediation process.
When mediating, I follow the conversation and through active/reflective listening, checking in and summarizing, I help the parties identify and discuss the issues. I do not sit in judgment, nor do I express personal opinions. I may work with parties to problem-solve, if that is their desire. I seek to help clients peacefully work through the issues with calm, care and consideration.
When mediating, I cannot give parties legal advice but since I am a lawyer who has training and experience in the family law matters of custody, separation, divorce and child support, I can provide legal information to the extent that parties desire it.
I have been a private mediator since 2004.
When two people in an intimate relationship – whether married or not – desire to end that relationship, resolve various legal issues between them, and/or move on to a different type of relationship with each other, mediation can be a way to accomplish these goals. The mediation process of building an agreement typically involves identifying each party’s broad goals and the issues for discussion, gathering necessary information, discussing/brainstorming options and solutions, engaging other professionals to assist (financial, parenting) if necessary, obtaining individual attorney review, and developing a final agreement.
Raising children is hard work. It’s even harder when doing it as co-parents who live in separate households and who may have differing values and approaches. As children grow and develop, a parenting plan written when the child was 5 may not apply when that child is 15. Parents and families can use mediation to help them work through the difficult conversations and decisions that come up during their children’s lives.
How do you know if mediation is the right choice for you?
If you feel you can make decisions for yourself, follow through on whatever promises you make, be willing to agree to disagree, and be willing to hear and consider another perspective, you should be able to successfully participate in mediation. If you both desire to maintain a changed relationship post-separation or post-divorce with each other, such as co-parents or simply friends, mediation can be a cost-effective option to get there. Where there has been domestic violence between parties, where the emotional hurt is too raw or too deep, where there is a significant power imbalance between parties, or where there are significant issues of mental illness and/or substance abuse, mediation may not be the best choice, in which case you might consider Collaborative Law. (link to this page on the site)
Typically, each mediation session takes 1 ½ to 2 hours. Fees are paid at the time of service.
What about “The Law?”
The mediator acts in a neutral capacity, meaning the mediator’s role is to facilitate the conversation, not direct it. While the mediator can engage in brain-storming solutions with parties, the parties are in control of their choices. The mediator can give information regarding the law regarding a specific issue, but the mediator can in no way provide legal advice to either party, whether the mediator is an attorney or not.
If legal rights are affected by the mediation, parties are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel to help them assess the individual legal effect of their agreement and provide them with legal advice.
As a lawyer, I can also draft a legal document such as a separation agreement or parenting plan after the mediation has completed. Additionally, if clients desire it, I can prepare any necessary court documents and submit them to the court.
- 2002 – 40 Hours, Mediator Training, Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC), Ithaca, NY
- 2003 – 40 Hours, Mediator Training, Center for Understanding in Conflict, New Rochelle, NY
- 2006 – 2010 – volunteer mediator, CDRC, Ithaca, NY
- On-going – continuing educational classes and seminars in mediation topics and techniques through various accredited mediation-centered agencies and organizations.