Three Reasons Private Divorce Mediation Works

Private Divorce Mediation typically describes the instance where spouses agree to negotiate, before they file a petition for divorce or shortly after filing, the terms of their divorce using a mediator.  This process works for many couples and the reasons aren’t always the same. 

However, there are three common reasons that Private Divorce Mediation Works:

1.  The couple is prepared to talk turkey.  

    It is impossible to negotiate or agree to anything when you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Private Divorce Mediation works well for couples who have taken some time to take an inventory of assets and debts, what it will cost to live separately (if they’re not already living apart), and run multiple scenarios of what they believe would be a fair deal.  Divorcing parents also fare well when they’ve taken time to consider the costs of co-parenting, the logistics of visitation, what health insurance will cost for the kids, and have gotten information about the legal obligations and formulas related to child support.  When couples have no idea what an apartment or child care costs, the mediation can spend time obtaining that information at the mediator’s hourly rate and decisions can still be made, but the exercise can trigger emotional responses that set the discussions back.  

2.  The couple has used attorneys wisely.

    Divorce attorneys are most frequently used in three ways:  projects (like reviewing an agreement, drafting a will, settlement negotiations/mediation, etc.), consultation (providing information about your situation in the legal context), and retained for litigation (usually meaning paying a retainer and paying the attorney an hourly fee to handle all aspects of the litigation).  

Spouses who have “purchased” a few hours of consultation with an attorney before getting too deep into the divorce process are likely to have a much better experience because they are informed and aren’t going to make rookie mistakes (e.g., believing that they are entitled to an inheritance from their rich mother-in-law who is still living, sole custody of their child is a trophy that makes them a “better parent than the other,” etc.).  In some cases, couples can get the best bang for their buck by consulting an attorney, then mediating a tentative settlement agreement, and then go back to the attorney to review the tentative agreement for “approval” and filing with a court.  

Getting good legal information is critical to avoiding costly missteps and to negotiating from a position of confidence in Private Divorce Mediation.  And, certainly, the attorney is always invited to be at mediation!     

3.  The couple is more interested in moving forward than in fighting.

Private Divorce Mediation is a process where the mediator will facilitate discussions being focused on attacking the issues of divorce rather than on attacking each other.  However, the emotional progression of divorce (denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance) plays a prominent role in whether emotions will prevent productive discussions to occur.  In short, there typically needs to be a healthy portion of “acceptance”  or enough acceptance on both sides of the table for Private Divorce Mediation to work.

Couples who are no longer living together often are living the reality of a future apart.  They have already faced and addressed changes associated with divorce and have them behind them (e.g., they know what it will cost to live alone, etc.).  As such, many of the fears sparked by change are no longer flashing and those emotions are less likely to derail discussions about the terms of the divorce.

One Mediation offers Private Divorce Mediation services in Atlanta, Georgia through a panel of experienced, professional divorce mediators.  Visit us online at http://www.onemediation.com for more information about divorce mediation, seminars, and appointments. 

2013 Divorce Hot Shot Series (Short Presentations for Real People)

 2013 Divorce Hot Shot Calendar

Registration at www.visionsanew.org ($25 per session, Presenters & Location Addresses Online)

January

Tues., January 8th (Perimeter, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

 Tues., January 15th (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Tues., January 22nd (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“How Child Support Works”

Tues., January 29th (Perimeter, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Options & Avenues”

 

February

Saturday, February 2nd (Buckhead 10 a.m.-Noon)

“Children Weathering the Storm”

Tues., February 5th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Thurs., February 21st (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

 

March/April

Tues., March 5th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Lies & Litigation”

Thurs. March 21st (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Thurs., April 25th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“What if Someone Dates During Divorce?”

May

Tues., May 7, 2013 (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Tues., May 21, 2013 (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“5 Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce”

June

Tues., June 11, 2013 (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“When the Pie Exceeds A Million Bucks”

Tues., June 25, 2013 (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“5 Common Parenting Mistakes in Divorce”

August

Wed., August 21st  (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“5 Common Legal Mistakes”

Tues., August 27th  (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

 “Divorce Orientation”

Wed., August 28th  (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Finding the Money & Honey”

September

Tues., September 10th  (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Sat., September 21st  (Buckhead 10 – Noon)

“Children Weathering the Storm”

 

 

Mediation Costs: Fees and “Flat Rates” and “Per Diem Caps,” Oh My!

On a recent call, a potential customer asked about costs of mediation.  It is a question that comes up all of the time.  I began to feel a bit like a cell-phone sales person, though.

Like most mediation firms, One Mediation’s mediators have different hourly rates that reflect their experience.  On the other hand, One Mediation also has mediators who offer a “per diem” cap on their mediation fees which is somewhat unusual.  Another mediator associated with One Mediation also offers a “flat rate” for her mediation services based upon the value of the dispute. 

All these “pricing programs” can be like sorting through the cell phone plans with unlimited minutes, additional lines, etc.   Don’t panic!

The short story of mediation expenses is pretty simple – there is “Traditional” billing and “Alternate” billing.  Traditional billing involves the parties paying their portion of the mediator’s hourly fee for the time the mediator spends providing them services.  In other words, if the mediation takes three hours and the mediator’s hourly fee is $200, the total bill for all parties will be $600.00 which is evenly split between the parties. 

Sometimes the mediator’s fee is split up differently because the parties have agreed to a different formula.  Additionally, in many settings, one party may agree to pay the entire mediation fee as part of the resolution.  A starting point, however, for mediation costs is to plan on splitting the fees evenly across the parties.

Alternate billing involves things such as “flat rates” and “per diem” caps.  A “flat rate” is a set fee that is paid to a mediator for any and all services rendered in facilitating the mediation of a particular dispute.  A “flat rate” has no correlation to the mediator’s time spent on the dispute.  As such, the parties could mediate for one hour or ten hours, and the rate will be the same.  Generally, flat rate billing is fairly rare.

Another alternate billing format involves “per diem” caps.  In this scenario, a mediator may offer his or her services on an hourly basis up to a certain amount per day.  After that point, any mediation services will not be billed at the hourly rate.  For example, if a mediator’s hourly rate is $200 and his per diem cap is $1,000.00, then a mediation that lasts over five hours will not increase the cost of services provided on that day.  Some mediators are willing to provide such caps, and parties should inquire about them.

New Panelist Teri Fields joins One Mediation

Teri FieldsTeri Fields began practice as a law clerk for the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama. She then went on to practice law in the Creditor’s Rights, Workouts and Insolvency Section at Burr and Forman, LLP in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Fields then moved back to her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia where she began practicing as an Associate in the Construction Law Group of Freeman, Mathis and Gary. From there she moved to the Georgia Department of Law where she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Real Property, Construction, and Authorities section and conducted litigation as well as served as general counsel for several Georgia Authorities. In June 2009, Ms. Fields opened the Fields Firm which specializes in general civil litigation, estate planning and probate litigation. Ms. Fields joined Townes Davis & Associates in February 2010 where she has added personal injury and premises liability to her practice.