Most adults have heard of a prenuptial agreement. Regardless of a person’s personal interest in a signing a prenuptial agreement, most recognize that the idea of clarifying issues before a couple weds makes sense. We tend to see a marriage as a clear marker of separate versus joint – and in most circumstances this is a positive change in perception as it helps cement relationships and lessen the chance of divorce. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘agreement’
Mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution, is a method of resolving disputes in which individuals or groups in conflict meet with a neutral person (mediator) who assists them reach an agreement that resolves the dispute. The mediator remains neutral and does not judge, determine merit, or favor one side over the other.
It is a confidential voluntary process, where all agreements are reached by those most impacted by the conflict or dispute and the outcome. Mediated solutions are typically seen as “win-win” solutions to conflicts or disputes.
Some important aspects of mediation:
- Resolution is always voluntary. Those who participate generally choose to participate. And in most instances can be ended, by either party, at any time. More and more divorce or child custody cases (as well as other types of lawsuits) may be referred to mandatory mediation. Although mandatory, any agreements reached continue to be voluntary.
- The parties agree to the resolution of the dispute. No one comes out of mediation with an order to do something they have not agreed to.
- Mediated agreements are as legally binding as any contract. In addition, since the agreements are reached with the full cooperation and involvement of the parties, adherence is greater than judgments rendered through the litigation process.
- An effective mediator facilitates communication. Often those who come to mediation are absolutely unable to discuss the conflict calmly. The presence of a mediator (a neutral third party) tends to mitigate the communication difficulties, and an effective mediator actively guides the parties towards a cooperative solution.
- Mediation is cost effective. Mediation tends to be significantly less expensive than litigation. When people chose to resolve disputes through the more traditional means of each getting lawyers, the fees almost always are higher and the process significantly longer. What can take 6 to 10 hours of mediation can take ten times that amount in billable time for attorneys, which equals $10,000′s of in attorney fees.
- Confidentiality & Privacy
- Why Divorcing Couples Should Try To Mediate Their Divorce First
- Arbitration vs. Mediation
- An Alternative to Business Litigation
- So Just What Am I Entitled To?
- The Savings – Cost of Divorce
- How Long Does It Take To Mediate?
- CFR Divorce Mediation Services
- Who Wins? Mediated Solutions Are Win-Win
Mediated resolutions means agreed to solutions to conflicts or disputes. For mediation to be successful, all disputants must voluntarily agree to the terms of the resolution. The mediator, a neutral, assists disputants create a resolution that works for them, without judging or forcing anyone to do or agree with anything.
Even if you cannot agree on everything in mediation, you will probably be able to agree on some things. Each issue that you resolve in mediation translates into less time in court, less legal fees and less stress for you.
Having a neutral third party who is a trained expert mediator facilitates the process. The mediator helps guide the parties towards resolution, maintain focus, and separate out the interests from the emotional positions.
And, for those conflicts or disputes that cannot be resolved in mediation, at least you understand what the specific issues are, and specifically what needs to be addressed. In addition, you will know you tried your best to reach an agreement before resorting to court intervention.
Sometimes new information, proposed solutions, or the passage of time makes it possible to resolve a previous point of dispute. So even if mediation does not address everything in a session or two, you may be able to resolve it a week or a month later through additional mediation, without having to go to court. It is always possible to schedule an additional mediation session at a later date to revisit a particular conflict point.
One of mediation’s most praised qualities is the fact that it is an incredibly cost-effective option in contrast with traditional litigation. Although cost may not be a pressing concern for high net-worth individuals, mediation offers many attractive features that make it the ideal route for high net-worth divorces.
Likely the most salient concern high net-worth couples may hold is their privacy. When litigating, your marriage goes public. As there are a large amount of assets at stake, you and your spouse’s history is all evidence and will become public record. In extreme cases, this can become an embarrassing public circus. Conversely, the mediation model avoids the spectacle of a divorce trial, allowing all parties to work out the details behind the scenes and obtain a civilized divorce.
Additionally, divorce can be bad for business. Oftentimes, high net-worth individuals reached that position through business ownership. If the business is publicly traded, it may cause apprehension among investors if they see a pending divorce that includes business assets as part of the anticipated decree on the prospectus. Choosing to mediate offers the parties options to manage this sort of outcome. Sitting down with a neutral mediator can facilitate a dialogue between the parties and can help craft an agreement that is in the best interest of both spouses and causes the least long-term damage and embarrassment.
While these concerns may especially affect high-net worth individuals, there is no reason why every single person considering divorce cannot benefit by the features that divorce mediation has to offer. We all hold our privacy near-and-dear to our hearts and utilizing private mediation can keep our private affairs just that. In the big picture, mediation is the natural way to resolve disputes. Through the assistance of the neutral mediator, working together with the other side, and having substantial input on the ultimate solution the parties come to give individuals a feeling of satisfaction with the outcome of the mediation. Unlike in litigation where parties are ultimately “told” what to do, in mediation, they “decide” what to do – the control is all yours. People with high net-worth, to people with few-to-no assets can all benefit from mediating, rather than litigating, their divorce.
The Washington Courts home page has a link to legal forms which can be used in any county in the state, and each of those links leads you to needed forms, plus more links on how to use it and why. About half of those forms are used by those dealing with family law disputes – such as divorce.
Washington is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the state does not require specific grounds for divorce. Couples can simply affirm that the relationship is broken and cannot be fixed. Washington’s forms allow for the needs of domestic partners as well.
Washington’s online presence does a great job of helping pro se litigants understand what they are doing and how to get help with it. As is appropriate, individual’s are encouraged to have an attorney review what they have done before it is filed in court – to ensure that everyone is clear as to what is being filed in the court.
For divorcing couples who wish to file pro se, divorce mediation is a way to resolve all the terms of the divorce settlement and parenting plan (commonly referred to as a custody agreement). Keep in mind that mediation may be ordered by the court as a way for the parties to settle issues like custody and visitation with a parenting plan, if they have not already resolve those issues on their own or through mediation. Couples should check with their local court clerk to verify the exact rules in their county. As a result, couples divorcing with or without children should consider looking for a mediator that they trust and can work with.
At CFR Mediation Services, we believe that mediation allows couples that have made the difficult decision to divorce – to move forward without additional trauma. Our experienced mediators are trained specialists in guiding people toward agreements on the difficult issues that go along with divorcing and parenting. Our mediators stay neutral and assist couples in making decisions that work for them. Contact us for specific information on how we can help you make this challenging time as painless as possible.
The economy and the real estate market have left many couples struggling financially. Couples that have decided to separate or divorce may find the possibility of financing two households difficult if not impossible.
Washington may lead the country in communicating with its citizens in the area of legal paperwork. The Washington Courts home page has a link to an entire page of legal forms which can be used in any county in the state, and each of those links leads you to the form, plus more links on how to use it and why. About half of those forms are used by those dealing with family law disputes.
Washington is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the state does not require specific grounds for divorce. One spouse simply affirms that the relationship is broken and cannot be fixed – the other spouse must agree to divorce. Washington’s forms allow for the needs of domestic partners as well.
Washington’s online presence does a great job of helping pro se litigants (including those who wish to divorce without an attorney) understand what they are doing and how to get help with it. They also very responsibly encourage litigants to have an attorney at least review what they have done before it is filed in court, just in case they missed something important.
For those who have not already accessed mediation to resolve the issues, mediation may be ordered by the court as a way for the parties to settle issues like custody and visitation with a parenting plan. (Check with your local court clerk to verify the exact rules in your county.) In a cases where couples are unable to navigate the emotional issues of the divorce settlement or create a solid positive parenting plan, you may need the assistance of a professional mediator.
At CFR we know divorce is seldom a planned or desired outcome of a marriage. Despite this, it does not need to be a tragedy. Our focus is on efficiently and effectively assisting couples and families move forward without the pain and hurt that is so often aggravated by the divorce process. Our experienced mediators are trained specialists in guiding people toward agreements on the difficult issues that go along with raising children, and they stay neutral while you and your partner make all the decisions yourselves. Contact us for specific information on how we can help you make this challenging time as painless as possible.
After you have successfully gone through the mediation process; you have worked with your CFR Mediation Coordinator, sat down with your CFR Certified Mediator, swiftly and fairly resolved your differences with the other party…now what? What is the next step?
The mediator will take the accord you have reached and write a detailed report outlining your agreement. This report will encompass everything you, or your private attorney, needs to file any of the necessary legal paperwork that results from your successful mediation.
The agreement drafted by your CFR Certified Mediator is called a Memorandum of Understanding or MU. This document details the entire agreement reached and is reviewed and ratified by the parties before being put into effect. To put your agreement into action, oftentimes additional legal documents must be drafted and/or filed.
Why doesn’t the CFR Certified Mediator do this for me; can’t I one-stop-shop?
This is a question that is often asked regarding the mediation process. This is actually a complicated legal question and has many answers. First off, in many instances, legal documents should, and often must, be drafted by an attorney. Due to the focused and targeted, and personalized nature of each and every CFR Mediation session, not all mediators are attorneys. They are professionals from all walks of life with degrees in a multitude of disciplines. Additionally, even when the CFR Certified Mediator is an attorney, they are acting as a third party neutral, not a representative of either party and because of this, are ethically precluded from drafting the parties’ legal documents.
Not to worry; the MU is a very detailed document that is all inclusive of the resolution worked out through your mediation with CFR. It expresses your intentions and your plan of action. When your CFR Mediation session comes to an end, we won’t leave you with your MU and ask you to fend for yourself – quite the opposite. Your CFR Mediation coordinator is fully capable of pointing you in the right direction to get your paperwork filed and finalized so you can swiftly, fairly, and confidently move on with your life.
Yes. Often the idea of mediation is dismissed as an option due to the disagreement, hurt feelings, distrust, and other negative feelings that surround the conflict. The thought is a natural one. How can mediation work when the smallest thing triggers conflict?
This holds true for divorce mediation as well other disputes; examples include workplace issues, employees/employer addressing ADA accommodation issues, business partners, neighbors, or condo associations.
Despite the seeming impossibility of bringing those with opposing positions to a mutually agreed to resolution, mediation is an extremely effective means resolution. A skilled mediator facilitates both parties in identifying the shared interests present in most any dispute. The mediator provides a neutral buffer as well as keeping both parties focused on reaching agreement – facilitating communication and focusing on the interests not the emotions that mess that surround the issue.
- An employee required to stand, requests an ADA accommodation due to an inability to stand. Mediation first clarifies the interests of both sides (the employee and employer) – at the very least a shared desire for continued productive employment.
- Members of a condo association are disputing the whether to change the bylaws. Mediation starts from the shared interest of continued appreciation of investment.
- Couples decide to divorce – they agree on little other than the decision to divorce. Divorce mediation starts with the shared interest of the decision to divorce.
In general, if both parties are genuinely willing to try mediation then, it makes sense as initial means of intervention. Mediation is confidential and agreements reached are voluntary. The accepted perspective is that all participants are equal and have the same input in the resolution. If disputing parties are willing to try, mediators can get them talking and working towards a resolution.
Mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is becoming more prevalent in our society, but many people still have questions about the process of resolving their conflict through mediation. Is this anything like arbitration? Who is running the show? What can a mediator possibly do to fix the problem?
Mediation and arbitration are not the same thing, they are both forms of ADR, but an arbitrator has the legal authority to decide or judge the case.
Mediators, on other hand, do not judge or make decisions – but assist those in dispute make their own decisions. Both mediators and arbitrators are neutral players in the process, but an arbitrator ultimately takes a side and makes a judgement, while the mediator remains neutral throughout the process.
What the mediator does do is facilitate a focused conversation towards resolution. The mediator actively assists those in conflict focus on their interests and build on agreements to create a comprehensive resolution.
Remember, those participating in the mediation are the ones who actually make the decisions about how to resolve the dispute, not the mediator. Once the mediation is complete, the mediator will write up a Memorandum of Understanding (MU) that both parties sign. The MU details the agreements reached in mediation, as well as continuing areas of disagreement (if any). Those participating in mediation can always have their own attorneys review the MU prior to signing, but that is at the discretion of each client. In general, a signed MU is as binding as any contract.
Most likely, your mediation sessions will end in full agreement. Most do. Mediation is not about fighting, blaming, or taking sides. A good mediator promotes communication, cooperation, and a compromise everyone can live with.