Spokane Mediation Attorney
Guiding Clients through Difficult Situations
The vast majority of disputes are resolved through mediation, thereby avoiding stressful, costly, and time-consuming litigation. As an experienced Family Law mediation attorney in Spokane, I have well over 18 years of experience helping families empower themselves by using the mediation process to resolve their disputes rather than relinquishing their power to the courts at trial. I am here to guide you through your divorce and address various issues, including custody, child support, alimony, and property division.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process in which a trained and neutral third party, known as a mediator, helps divorcing couples reach agreements on various issues related to their divorce. The primary goal of divorce mediation is to facilitate communication and negotiation between the two parties, enabling them to make decisions about key matters such as property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, and any other relevant issues without the need for a court trial.
Here's how the divorce mediation process typically works:
- Initial Meeting: The process typically begins with an initial meeting where the mediator explains the ground rules and the mediation process. The parties may have a chance to outline their concerns and what they hope to achieve through mediation.
- Information Gathering: The mediator may request financial and legal information from both spouses to gain a better understanding of their assets, liabilities, and other relevant details.
- Joint Sessions: The mediator schedules joint sessions where both spouses, with their respective legal counsel if desired, meet to discuss and negotiate the terms of their divorce. The mediator guides the discussion, helping the parties identify common ground and explore potential solutions.
- Agreement Development: As the parties work through the issues, the mediator assists in developing a divorce agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the divorce, such as property division, child custody arrangements, child support, and spousal support.
- Review and Legal Consultation: Once the parties reach a tentative agreement, they may choose to have their respective attorneys review the agreement to ensure it complies with the law and is in their best interests.
- Finalizing the Divorce: If both parties are satisfied with the agreement, they can submit it to the court for approval, which typically results in a divorce decree. The court will review the agreement to ensure it's fair and in accordance with the law.
Divorce mediation offers several potential advantages, such as a quicker and less adversarial process, cost savings, and more control over the outcome. It can be particularly beneficial for couples who are willing and able to work together to find solutions, even if they have disagreements.
However, mediation may not be suitable for all situations, particularly when there are significant conflicts or concerns about power imbalances. In such cases, traditional litigation may be a more appropriate path. It's important to consult with an attorney to determine the best approach for your specific circumstances.
What Can I Expect at a Divorce Mediation?
While a small percentage of disputes cannot be resolved via mediation, opting for mediation over trial affords both parties many benefits and opportunities not available through court action. So is divorce mediation a good idea?
Unlike trial, mediation is often more:
- Realistic - Mediation with an Spokane family law mediation attorney will allow the parties to determine the soundness of their respective positions and likelihood for success or failure if their case proceeds to trial.
- Safe - Unlike litigation, mediation is not an adversarial process. An effective divorce mediator will ensure the balance of power between the parties is maintained and that all communication is respectful and non-blaming. Both parties are afforded the opportunity to state their positions and offer proposals without facing interruption, threats, or scorn.
- Affordable - In my experience as Spokane mediation lawyer, most Family Law-related disputes are resolved within three two-hour mediation sessions. I ask the parties to agree how they will share the costs prior to the first session. Most attorneys charge $200 per hour or more. In Family Law matters, attorney’s fees and costs for a single motion can exceed $1,000, depending upon the amount of preparatory work involved. What is most important is that neither party is generally satisfied with a judge’s ruling on a motion.
- Fast - Mediation offers a timelier final resolution of disputes compared to the time it takes an action to get through the legal system. Parties, who are committed to resolving their disputes via mediation can typically expect to finalize their dissolution within a 91-day period. If the parties elect to resolve their disputes via litigation and trial, it is not uncommon for the matter to take a year to finalize.
- Confidential - Mediators cannot be compelled to disclose information related to the mediation, and the parties are required to sign confidentiality agreements before mediation begins. However, if, during the course of the mediation, a party discloses their involvement in criminal activity or admits to the abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult, the mediator is duty bound to report that activity. If mediation is not successful, and subsequent litigation is required, the parties and their attorneys are prevented by statute and the rules of evidence from disclosure of any statements made or actions taken at mediation at trial, and cannot compel the mediator to testify.
- Empowering - The parties to mediation determine their own outcomes and craft solutions/agreements that are workable given their unique needs and circumstances. Judges will generally not take time to consider the unique concerns or circumstances of the parties or their children. Additionally, an effective mediator will ensure that all communications between the parties is respectful and non-blaming; thus, often permitting parties to be heard by each other in a way that may facilitate empathy and increase cooperation.
Healthy - Mediation is emotionally and psychologically healthier than litigation
for the following reasons:
- Parties must listen to each other without interruption or showings of disrespect
- Mediators reflect parties underlying feelings and concerns so that both parties feel heard and understood
- It affords parties a unique opportunity to hear and empathize with each other’s positions, possibly for the first time
- Successful - Mediation has higher settlement rates and better outcomes. Of all disputes entered into mediation, I have successfully resolved 95%. A successful mediation is one that results in the parties resolving their disputes by jointly creating agreements that are reasonable, fair, and easy to comply with the given parties’ unique circumstances. Parties always feel better after resolving their disputes via mediation, thereby avoiding the stress, time, and expense of a lengthy litigation process
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce Through Mediation?
Every case is unique in its own way. The average case can take several sessions over the course of a month or two. The time can go by faster or slower, and it all depends on how complex the case is. The more flexible the couple is to talk things out and find a fair agreement and resolution, the smoother things will go.
When Is Divorce Mediation Not Recommended
Divorce mediation may not be recommended in certain situations where it is unlikely to be effective or safe for one or both parties involved. Here are some scenarios where divorce mediation may not be advisable:
- Domestic Violence or Abuse: If there is a history or ongoing threat of domestic violence, abuse, or intimidation between the parties, mediation may not be safe or appropriate. In such cases, a safer alternative, such as litigation with legal representation, may be necessary to protect the victim's safety and rights.
- Power Imbalance: If there is a significant power imbalance between the spouses, such as one party being significantly more assertive or controlling than the other, mediation may not be effective. The imbalance could lead to one party feeling pressured or coerced into agreeing to terms that are not in their best interest.
- Complex Financial or Legal Issues: If the divorce involves complex financial assets, such as businesses, investments, or significant debts, or if there are complex legal issues related to child custody, support, or property division, mediation may not be sufficient to address these complexities. In such cases, it may be more appropriate to seek legal advice and representation to ensure all aspects are properly addressed.
- Unwillingness to Cooperate: If one or both parties are unwilling to participate in good faith or are not committed to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement, mediation may not be productive. Both parties need to be willing to negotiate and compromise for mediation to be successful.
- Mental Health or Substance Abuse Issues: If one or both parties have significant mental health issues or substance abuse problems that impair their ability to participate effectively in mediation or make informed decisions, mediation may not be recommended. In such cases, professional intervention or treatment may be necessary before attempting mediation.
It's important to assess the specific circumstances of your divorce and consider whether mediation is a suitable option. Consulting with a divorce attorney or a mediator who can evaluate your situation and provide personalized advice can help you make an informed decision about the best approach for your divorce process.
Enlist the Help of Ellen M. Hendrick PLLC
With extensive experience handling high-conflict, high-asset divorces, no case is too complex for our Spokane family law mediation lawyer. I can guide you through the mediation process, striving to reduce conflict and reach a positive resolution. Trust my firm to walk you through the complicated legal process of divorce and family law matters.
If you’re considering mediation as a means of dissolving your marriage, I am happy to assist you. Call the Spokane divorce mediation lawyer, Ellen M. Hendrick PLLC, at (509) 402-2248.
“Ellen is a fighter and I feel extremely grateful for her invaluable representation.”- Patrick R.
“She is fair and provides outstanding and rationale advice.”- Former Client
“If you are looking for a hard-working never quit trying the type of lawyer that will give you 100% all the time then go with Ellen ...”- Chris and Vicki