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Family Mediation
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So, if everyone seems to prefer just hooking up with a lawyer and going to court when they have a conflict, why should you consider mediation instead?

There are several reasons why mediation is becoming so popular. In fact, most states have legislation in place allowing (or even instructing, in some cases) judges to send disputants to mediation. Here are the most important reasons to consider mediation:

1. Cost - Mediation is usually much less expensive than litigation.

Take a divorce for example, since this is still one of the more mediated situations. When a couple decides to divorce, generally each contacts a lawyer to file for divorce and to respond to the suit. The lawyers usually ask for a retainer that can range from a few thousand dollars to many thousands, based on the area they're in, how large the mutual holdings are, and how complicated the proceedings can be expected to become. Then come billings for court filings, depositions, discovery research, hearings, etc. etc.

With a mediated divorce, although at least one lawyer is usually hired to file papers and to advise on any specific legal questions, the overall mediation process is handled by a mediator at much lower rates. The mediator may advise the disputants to contact attorneys, financial advisors, counselors, or other experts, but consultations with these experts are often shorter in duration, which means lower cost. Mediations can cost from half to one tenth the cost of litigations.
 

2. Time - Mediations can take much less time than litigations.

In the litigated divorce example above, all the meetings, depositions, discovery research, repeated court hearings, and settlement meetings can take months to years to complete.

With a mediated divorce (or any other mediated situation, such as child care payment realignment, visitation scheduling, etc.) the meetings with the mediator usually take just a few weeks to complete. Of course, if financial matters or property division gets drawn out, it can take longer. But usually a mediating couple is prepared to move more quickly.
  

3. Control - You have more control over the speed and outcome of your proceedings.

When you hand over your case to an attorney and the legal system, you follow their time table. That is based on the attorney's schedule with his other clients, the court's dockets, the disputant's attorney, paperwork filings, and many other factors out of your control. You wait for your next chance to take one more small step toward completion.

With mediation, you set the pace. The mediation sessions are scheduled at times that are convenient for you. Most divorce mediations take four to eight sessions of two to three hours each. Your mediator will watch for fatigue or signs of stalemates and call breaks or halts in the meetings to give you time to breathe. You will have time to carefully consider each decision you must make and to gather necessary information and explore options until you have reached an agreement which meets your needs. 
  

4. Satisfaction - Disputants who mediate instead of litigating are often much happier with the results.

Consider the divorce again - both the husband and wife are directed by their attorneys (as conscientious legal representatives) to battle for all the rights they can each get. Each side is encouraged to drag out every negative aspect or humiliating fact about their spouse they can think of, to use as leverage in the battle to come. A war zone mentality is created, with the children often used as pawns or property to be fought over.

The divorcee's that do go to court (many settle out of desperation!) are then told by the judge or jury how their alimony, child visitation, property division - basically their whole lives - should be handled. The decisions that shape their lives are taken out of their hands by the court system.

With mediation, the divorcing couple has sat down together, under the guidance of the neutral mediator, and they have decided for themselves how they want to structure their own separate lives. Private grudges and battles are kept in an atmosphere of cooperation. Your mediation will take place in a private office, unlike court proceedings which are open to the general public. Each participant agrees to fully disclose details and assets because they know it is in their best interest to make this partnership work.

The settlement agreement that is drawn up by the participants is made up of their mutual wishes and their own plans for building a parenting partnership. In the case of child visitation, the parents get the opportunity to decide together what will be the best for their children. The children are cared for, not fought over.

No wonder more mediation clients are satisfied with their settlements - they created the settlements themselves! Read some clients' comments here.

AND they learned how to work together to make any changes later on. This is important because it means that they won't need as much to go to others for help in dealing with the inevitable changes that come into divorced parenting relationships. The parenting team can use the same negotiating strategies from mediation to solve their future challenges ... together ... cooperatively!

Shouldn't you consider mediating your conflict together,
rather than going into a legal war that nobody wins?

Call me or email me for information on
how we can work out your situation peacefully.

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Bob Collins, 479-522-7490, FamilyMediator; Fort Smith, AR 72917 - NWA Western Arkansas Eastern Oklahoma

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