Yes, but it is far less expensive than going to court.
No. You and your lawyer will be in a separate room away from the other party and his or her lawyer. I will go back and forth between the rooms. If mediation is via Zoom, this will be accomplished via breakout rooms.
Absolutely. What’s on your mind is why we’re doing this. I promise you this: you are the most important person in the room, more so than me or the lawyers.
Talk with your lawyer about this, but it’s generally a bad idea.
Extremely. We’ll talk more about this on the day of mediation, but--with few exceptions--everything said in mediation stays in mediation. You can tell me something and tell me not to tell the other side, and I won’t. You can tell me this is your bottom line, but ask me not to disclose it and trust I won’t. In fact, each time I leave your room, I’m going to ask you if there’s anything you’ve told me that you wish be kept secret.
Excellent! The Office of the Administrator of the Courts in Olympia tells us that well over 90 percent of all family law cases settle without going to trial, but not all settlements are good settlements. Some are born of exhaustion, fear, or simply caving-in. That’s always a mistake. The beauty of mediation is that you can achieve a better, well-considered, longer lasting agreement that works best for you and your children--and one far less likely to involve post-decree disagreements and expensive hearings. My primary goal for you is this: five years from now, you look back and say we did things which were wise. I want you to be able to say to yourself, “I may not have liked absolutely everything about our settlement, but I’m extremely glad we did it.”
No. Over forty years as a divorce lawyer has taught me there are some cases that just have to be tried in court in front of a Superior Court judge. Those cases are the exception, not the rule. Such cases aren’t ripe for arbitration either, but keep the following in mind too. There have been many times as a litigating lawyer when I’ve entered a mediation thinking there’s no chance my case will settle and yet, a productive and well-done mediation has resulted in a perfectly reasonable and good settlement for both sides.
No. But I make three promises:
I will thoroughly analyze the materials your lawyer has given me, including the court case file, sworn statements, temporary orders and any legal authority your lawyer thinks I should give special attention. If I think it’s helpful, I may also do additional legal research of cases and statutes.
A full day of mediation or arbitration is a flat fee of $2,800 and a half day of mediation or arbitration is $1,400. The fee is due on the morning of the scheduled mediation or arbitration.
No. I will gladly travel to and thoroughly prepare for your mediation or arbitration without charge to you. Thorough preparation and legal research are extremely important to me.
Yes. I only mediate or arbitrate cases when both sides have their own lawyers who are present during the session. You are the most important person in the room, but your lawyer is an extremely valuable part of the mediation or arbitration process. Online and other inquiries will reveal there are excellent mediation resources available for those acting as their own attorney.
Mediation and arbitration are governed by different Washington state statutes. Mediators have no power to compel the parties to accept a settlement. As long as they act in good faith, participants in mediation may stop the process at any time. By contrast, arbitrators make rulings and, with few exceptions, those rulings will become binding orders of the court.
Your lawyer will explain the different types of mediation but, briefly, my mediation style is evaluative and not facilitative. In facilitative mediation, the mediator withholds his or her own views of the case and its strengths and weaknesses. I have never liked facilitative mediation because the process makes it easier for a dominant or strong-willed party to achieve one-sided results. Evaluative mediation is more balanced, the playing field more even. First and foremost, I will listen to you with deep intention and focus. With lots of back and forth, I promise to help both sides better understand the risk-adjusted value of all issues of their case. I also promise you complete candor and honesty.
Yes. You can even mediate before your case is filed in court or at any time after. Some choose to mediate temporary orders and then later a final settlement.
Provided each participant agrees to comply with all health care mandates then in effect, I prefer in-person mediation and arbitration because it affords more meaningful interaction. But Zoom is also an option.