Gresham Family Law Mediation Attorneys
Resolve Your Case Amicably & Avoid Courtroom Litigation
At its core, mediation is a process that gives divorcing couples the opportunity to work through disputes with a neutral third party before resorting to a trial. If mediation will help you and your spouse reach a complete agreement, it may be appropriate to only have an attorney-mediator meet with you both and finalize your documents.
At Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law, our founding attorney, Lillian S. Watson, is a trained mediator and divorce attorney who can help you finalize your divorce or resolve your family law case effectively.
Why Choose Mediation?
Our Gresham family law mediators can work with you and your spouse to help you make decisions, prepare documents, and get final documents signed and filed with the appropriate court. As your mediator, we must remain neutral and do not represent either of you but can answer your questions.
Some of the benefits of mediation include:
- Shorter duration than traditional trial litigation
- Lower cost than litigation
- Non-confrontational atmosphere
- Neutral, objective mediator encourages the exchange of ideas
- More affordable than litigation
Additionally, many people feel better about the compromises that were reached because they had a stake in the terms.
What Can You Expect When Going Through Mediation?
There are generally six steps to mediation:
- The mediator will introduce everyone and explain the goals and rules of mediation
- Each party will describe the dispute and its consequences
- Each party can respond to the other’s opening statement
- Each party will meet with the mediator privately
- If a settlement is not reached during the private meetings, the mediator may bring the parties back for a joint negotiation
- If an agreement is reached, the mediator will put it in writing and ask each participant to sign it
Is Mediation Better Than Going Through Court?
Mediation offers some unique advantages that going to court does not. Those include:
- Cost effectiveness
- Time savings
- More cooperation
If you and your spouse can work together to come to an agreement, then mediation may very well be a better option than traditional litigation.
At GFBL, we understand that facing divorce or a family law case can be overwhelming. Whether you and your partner are cordial and agreeable or at odds, mediation can be an effective way to resolve disputes. Below, we have answered common questions about family law mediation.
Is mediation a type of alternative dispute resolution used to help us settle our divorce?
Mediation and collaborative law are both examples of alternative dispute resolutions. It is important that you choose the correct process to fit your circumstances. Whether you have a short-term marriage, have children, own property, or have joint debts, these can be resolved through mediation. Every family’s circumstances are unique, so it is best to discuss your options with a trusted attorney who can help you pursue the correct avenue of dispute resolution.
Can GFBL explain the options available to me?
Yes, in your initial consultation we can discuss your options. Your choices include coaching, mediation, or full lawyer representation. An initial consultation is not a commitment, but an opportunity to choose the route that will meet your needs.
What is the purpose of mediation in finalizing a divorce?
Mediation is a process where both spouses discuss their differences to resolve their divorce with the help of a neutral professional. A trained mediator often has a background or training as a counselor or a child specialist. Attorney Lillian Watson is one of the only trained mediators in the immediate area.
How is mediation used in a divorce?
When two spouses have decided to divorce, they may agree on several aspects of their divorce, but there are often one or more issues on which they cannot agree. With a mediator as their guide, they can discuss their different positions and reach an agreement without resorting to courtroom litigation. A mediator does not act as a judge who makes decisions for you, but they may share their legal knowledge and experiences about the court’s role in the process.
What is the benefit of using an attorney experienced in family law as a mediator?
Many family lawyers are trained in mediation, which provides the skills needed to remain neutral. Because they are a neutral third party, the mediator cannot take sides or provide legal advice – but that does not mean they cannot explain legal principles or guidelines.
How long does the process take?
It can be completed in a few meetings but participation always voluntary. Most clients can expect to resolve their case in about three meetings, plus an initial conference. Exact timing will depend on your unique case and your availability to meet with us. Lillian is available to schedule meetings as required by your schedule. We can also schedule meetings late in the afternoon into the early evening and occasionally on Saturdays.
What if we cannot reach an agreement?
Once you hire Lillian as your mediator, she ethically cannot represent either of you in the collaborative or traditional method, as all mediation discussions are confidential. You are not prevented from switching to a collaborative method or traditional litigation if all efforts to settle fail. In fact, we encourage you to have your settlement reviewed by an outside attorney. If you decide that collaborative law is a better choice than mediation, we are available to represent one of you.
What can I expect at the initial conference?
When you initially meet with us, we will want to learn about you and your situation. We will also want to explore whether mediation is the right process for your case. For example, in cases where there is a significant power imbalance or a history of domestic abuse, mediation may not be the right process for dissolving the marriage.
How much will it cost to complete our divorce through mediation?
We will review costs in more detail at your initial meeting, but our firm charges $150 for your initial 30-45-minute meeting. We will review your issues, determine if mediation is appropriate in your circumstances, and estimate how many meetings we anticipate the process to take. We may ask you to complete some “homework” so that you and your partner understand where you stand financially both before and after your divorce.
After the initial meeting, it should take one full meeting to determine what issues will need to be addressed. From there, you will set as many meetings as necessary to discuss the other complicated issues and then a meeting to document your final decisions.
What if we need an additional meeting or two to reach an agreement?
After the initial consultation, we can schedule as many meetings as needed to resolve your issues so there is no reason not to finish. This is one of the benefits of mediation, as you do not depend on a court calendar. Instead, you can set meetings as often as necessary and focus on the issues important to your relationship during a time frame you choose. We can set several meetings in advance based on your schedule if that is helpful.
Who can prepare our final court documents?
You have three options:
- You can have your individual attorney(s) prepare documents based on your mediated agreement
- You can file a self-help form
- You can have us prepare co-petition documents to be filed with the court
If you request that we prepare your final documents, we will need a separate meeting to review draft documents, possibly one to sign and then to finalize the process. You can ask us to prepare the documents necessary to complete your divorce, but this is a separate fee from mediation time.
What if each of us has already hired our individual attorneys?
Our firm has worked with many of the family attorneys in our metropolitan area. Check with your attorney and see who they recommend as a mediator. Remember: You are the client and you have the choice to choose who you would like to resolve your family issues.
What if we have children?
If you have children under 18 or if your children are between 18 and 21, the divorce judgment must address their needs. Again, you and your spouse can make many – if not most – of the decisions regarding custody and parenting time. If you are unsure how to define your ongoing relationship with your children, we are here to help. There are lots of tools you can use, and we can point you to professionals to help with this decision. Of course, if you resort to traditional litigation, a judge will decide your parenting time. Although most parties eventually settle custody and parenting time issues, your attorney may spend hours (which equals cost) preparing for trial. When you elect mediation (or a collaborative method) you keep the decisions between you. This can help you in your co-parenting together after the divorce is final – and save time and money.
Who decides the amount of child support?
The amount of child support is decided on various statutory factors and judges are reluctant to sign off on any agreements that do not comply with the statutory formula. However, there are various factors that are considered. Mrs. Watson is experienced in establishing child support and can work with you to arrive at an amount that is fair and agreeable to both parents. Remember: If your child is between 18 and 21, they become a party to your divorce and have a right to be supported by their parents.
Does a collaborative divorce cost more than mediation?
Collaborative law will likely cost more than mediation as you are using two attorneys to reach the final decisions. However, if either of you wishes to have your own attorney, collaborative law may be the right option for you.
To learn more about the benefits of mediation for a family law or divorce case, call GFBL at (503) 470-2230.