Reaching Agreements with Divorce Mediation
The purpose of divorce mediation is to help you reach agreement on all issues. Mediation may be a good fit if you are willing to reach an agreement that works for you and your spouse, but need the help of a neutral mediator to get there. The mediator works as a guide and facilitator to help you make decisions and reach agreements together. The assistance of a skilled and neutral mediator can make all the difference when a possible agreement might otherwise seem elusive, and to make sure all the details are properly covered.
Many of my mediation clients start working with me from the time they decide to separate. Mediation sessions are typically scheduled in two-hour blocks, organized and spaced to be appropriate to your unique circumstances so decisions can be made in an orderly manner and no one feels too overwhelmed. Currently, we meet via Zoom. Over weeks or months, the three of us work together one step at a time.
By managing and directing the conversation, the mediator offers a structure that is conducive to gaining understanding about what matters, prioritizing what’s important, and then making good decisions together.
Most people who are divorcing benefit from the guidance that an experienced mediator can provide. Before making decisions, most people want to understand the range of options and implications of different choices … and want to avoid landmines. As an experienced divorce mediator, I keep the conversation on track, organize and analyze your financial information so it can be understood, prepare financial reports that reflect ideas under consideration, and help you consider the possibilities for addressing your goals and concerns. When emotions arise, we deal with them respectfully. The goal is to understand each person’s concerns and make sound agreements for your futures.
The mediator helps you organize information and educates you on the fundamentals, to help you make good decisions.
My skills and background as mediator are unique. I bring skills from my work as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (2017-22) to help you understand the real-world impacts of your financial choices and consider options you may not know exist. I have over 30 years of family law legal experience, including work on complex legal and practical questions involving businesses, real estate, executive compensation, taxation, and other issues. I have received training in post-divorce parenting and co-parent coaching and have worked with mental health professionals who specialize in parenting. I have taught other mediators, lawyers, and mental health professionals how to facilitate difficult discussions and emotions to reach agreements in separations and divorces, and have taught judges about financial issues in divorce.
Many divorcing couples in the Puget Sound/Seattle area find mediation to be an effective way to make agreements that address their financial and parenting concerns.
The Mediation Process
When I work as mediator, we focus on identifying the questions that need to be addressed. I prefer to proactively discuss some of the emotional factors that otherwise can create hurdles to reaching agreement. We go over what will be important to each of you over the long-term, look at the resources that are available, and then focus on possible solutions. It’s key that everyone has a good understanding. Each mediation has several “big picture” implications—including the impact of the divorce itself on you and your family, and the impact of proposed solutions. We focus on both.
Each mediation is different, because the needs of different people are different. The typical process starts off with setting the foundation for working together, and understanding each of your priorities. If something urgent needs to be discussed (such as moving out, telling the children about divorce, etc.), we can prioritize those items so they get addressed first. If your communication patterns form a stumbling block, we may focus on improving those patterns.
I believe that a good understanding is foundational to making good decisions. We share information to gain a solid understanding of the resources available to address your priorities prior to drilling down to the nuts and bolts. I will review financial documents and prepare a financial illustration to help keep the financial discussion organized, and to help you to have the information needed to make good decisions.
As part of divorce mediation, we allocate property and debt, decide on support, consider tax consequences of different choices, and reality-test scenarios, so you can make good decisions for yourself and your family. If you have children, we discuss co-parenting considerations and use those as a basis to help you create a good co-parenting relationship and Parenting Plan for your children’s future. Once everyone is satisfied, I prepare a detailed Memorandum of Understanding that reflects your agreements.
Mediation: Working Together
Mediation involves working together in same room to discuss important questions. If you and your spouse are up to doing that productively, mediation can be an excellent fit. Important to success is the willingness of all to commit to working together to find solutions, and an ability to maintain common courtesy while openly discussing concerns and important questions. This means that you are an active participant. You will be expected to share your concerns and goals, to listen carefully to each other, and to give each other the freedom needed to reach an agreement that can be acceptable to both of you.
Mediators in Washington State may not prepare binding contracts and court documents to formalize the divorce agreements. As part of my services, I prepare a Memorandum of Understanding that provides all the details of my understanding of all agreements you have reached. The Memorandum of Understanding is designed to simplify preparing the legal documents, whether you have them prepared by an attorney or prepare them yourselves. For a mediated divorce, court involvement is limited to the formality of approving the agreements you have reached.
For those wishing to have the documents prepared and the court formalities handled by an attorney (both are highly recommended!), or simply wish to get some legal advice along the way, I provide referrals. Mediation can be an excellent way to keep legal fees contained, because the lawyers are not present or involved in the negotiations—they assist you only when needed.
I provide mediation and facilitation that concern a wide array of family law issues including:
- Property and debt allocation
- Spousal Maintenance
- Parenting Plans and Post-Divorce Co-Parenting
- Child Support
- Domestic Partnerships
- Living-together Arrangements
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Marital and Relationship Mediation
- Family Mediation (Family Disputes)
- Partnership and Business Disputes
- Inheritance Disputes
- Most other types of disputes, whether between people, organizations, businesses, or government.
For More Information About Mediation in Seattle
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