Reaching Agreements with Divorce Mediation
Mediation can be appropriate when people wish to work productively towards reaching an agreement, even if they do not know how or feel stuck. Many who select mediation have had difficulties reaching agreements together in the past. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential approach to reaching resolutions with the assistance of a neutral mediator. The mediator provides the structure and helps you work through the challenges and questions; you make the decisions. Mediation can provide a safe place for such important discussions.
Most people who are divorcing need some help focusing on what needs to be addressed, understanding the options, and staying productive. As an experienced divorce mediator, I keep the conversation on track, organize and analyze your financial information, and help you understand the possibilities for addressing your goals and concerns. If emotions arise, we deal with them respectfully so we can get back on track. This allows you to discuss and address your concerns and make sound agreements.
Many Seattle-area couples find mediation to be an efficient and effective way to make agreements that address their financial and parenting concerns. The mediator does not make decisions for you, but manages and directs the conversation, and offers a structure that is often conducive to gaining understanding and insights, prioritizing what’s important, and resolving differences.
My background as mediator is unique. I am a lifelong student, and also have years of experience teaching other professionals how to facilitate difficult discussions and emotions that come up in divorce, so they can help their clients reach agreements. I bring my skills as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® to the discussion, to help you understand the real-world financial impacts of your financial choices and options you may not have considered. I have over 30 years of family law legal experience, and extensive experience working hands-on with complex legal and practical questions involving businesses, real estate, taxation, and other issues. I have received education in post-divorce co-parent coaching and have years of experience working with families to help you structure your post-divorce co-parenting relationship.
The Mediation Process
When I work as mediator, we focus on identifying the questions that need to be addressed, discuss what is important to each of you, and work towards solutions. It’s key that everyone has a good understanding of the situation. Each mediation has “big picture” implications—the impact of the dispute 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.
A good understanding is foundational to 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 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 can 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, we put it into a Memorandum of Understanding that reflects your agreement.
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 are prohibited from preparing legal documents to formalize the divorce agreements and for court. 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 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 (highly recommended!), or simply wish to get some legal advice along the way, I can provide you with 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.
Our office is designed to provide a comfortable, safe, and neutral place for productive discussions about issues that matter.
For More Information About Mediation in Seattle
If you are interested in learning more about divorce (or other) mediation, contact us at (206) 622-6707 or fill out the form on this page.