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Divorce ends a marriage but it does not necessarily sever connections, especially when children are involved. The process of going to court for a divorce, custody or support modification dispute, imposes strict rules on communications, creates increased conflict and is predicated on an assumption of distrust. The mediation process, on the otherhand, offers a new paradigm. It is:
- An Alternative to Court. Mediation is an alternative to going to court. You mediator will work with you to address and fully resolve your divorce, including drafting legally enforceable agreements and filing all of the necessary paperwork. You can also address just a part of your case, such as custody, or a support modification.
- Guided by a Neutral Facilitator. In mediation, with the help of a neutral facilitator who is not representing either of the parties, the focus is on communication and mutual problem-solving. The atmosphere is one of respect, resulting in decreased conflict and hostility and a better understanding of each otherâ€™s interests and needs. The mediation process seeks solutions that address those deeper needs and interests.
- Voluntary, Informal, Private and Confidential. Mediation is voluntary, informal, private and confidential. It works because the parties, with neutral guidance and support, talk directly to one another. When this occurs, parties discover more possible solutions, creating value and â€œexpanding the pieâ€, resulting in the possibility of joint gains.
- Cost-Efficient/Time-Efficient. Mediation typically costs significantly less then litigation and is usually much more time-efficient. Depending on the complexity of your case, when you choose mediation with the Law and Mediation Offices of Julia Whitelaw, the process is structured to occur in approximately 5-7 sessions scheduled of 1.5-2 hours in length, scheduled at your convenience, each with a dedicated agenda and goals resulting in a draft Marital Settlement Agreement.
- Based on the Belief That You and Your Spouse Will Make the Best Decisions About Your Lives and the Lives of Your Children. Most importantly, in mediation you and your spouse make all of the decisions about how you want to transition to your new life, restructure your assets and plan for your shared parenting; the mediator does not sit as a decision maker. Further, although you can choose to be guided by the law, the law is not binding or limiting. The goal is to reach an agreement where there is mutual gain; no winner and no loser.
New trends in mediation called co-mediation or integrative mediation recognize the complexity of the emotional aspect of divorce (and custody or support modifications) through teaming a mediator, usually an attorney by background, with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
- Additional Support to Facilitate a Difficult Process. In co-mediation the mental health professional is there not as a therapist but as a coach to help the parties through the emotional difficulties and communication blockages that inevitably arise in the mediation process using an in depth understanding of couples and family systems dynamics.
- Child Development Resource. The therepist is also able to contribute his or her knowledge on child development and facilitate agreement on appropriate parenting plans.
In the integrative mediation approach, the attorney and the therapist act as a cohesive team mediating on all issues in recognition of the complexity of the negotiation of all financial, legal and emotional issues. In both cases, the clients benefit from a more comprehensive approach.
The Benefit of Mediating with Julia Whitelaw
As a skilled and experienced family law attorney with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, Julia can provide some of the co-mediation/integrative mediation benefit without the expense of retaining two or more professionals for every mediation session. Further, in recognition of the stress, anxieity and complexity of engaging in mediation, Julia's mediation program incorporates elements of wellness and nutrition to ensure our clients are in the best possible position prior to and during their negotiations.
The Bottom Line
Mediation is not right for everyone, but it expands the possibilities for you and your spouse to take charge of your divorce or custody/support modification dispute, retain respect for each other, find a new and positive path for you and your family and create a working relationship that will help you to conduct the mutual aspects of your future lives in peace.
Do you have questions or do you want to make an appointment in this area?
Call us at 415 968-5909 or use our contact form.