Mediation

Mediation (family law and more)

 

The Reynolds Law Firm, PC, provides comprehensive private mediation services to help resolve conflicts as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.  Because of her extensive litigation experience in highly emotional cases, Lorena Reynolds knows the importance of trying to resolve matters without resorting to a trial.  We provide mediation services for all kinds of disputes. Most often, our clients are seeking assistance in resolving a conflict over a will, trust, or a family law matter.

When mediating family law (divorce, custody, or partnership dissolutions), we focus on getting agreements in a structured process that minimizes stress and conflict.  When children are involved, we focus on developmentally appropriate and practical plans that are age appropriate.  We also mediate the financial aspects of divorce, including the distribution of assets and debts, as well as reaching agreement on the amount of child or spousal support.

As an attorney-mediator, Lorena can draft all of the paperwork necessary to finalize a settlement agreement between parties. She will work with parties whether they represent themselves or have attorneys.

Our goal is to assist you to most effectively, comfortably, and confidently represent yourself in mediation. In mediation, you will be making all of the decisions because the parties have complete control of the outcome.

As the mediator, Lorena is neither your lawyer, nor is she the judge or a decision maker.  She is an experienced, impartial person whose role is to provide options for the parties and to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to reaching an agreement.  She recognizes that litigation is not only expensive, but it also hands over control of the most important parts of people’s lives to a system that is not equipped to handle the complex interpersonal dynamics associated with families in conflict means that she is dedicated to helping people craft their own futures.

The mediator has no decision-making power. Thus, it is important for you to consider how you can best represent your interests in mediation, as well as the results that you would like to create in mediation.

The following information is intended to assist you to maximize and economize your mediation experience.

 

What is Mediation?

Mediation is the opportunity for people to conduct their own settlement negotiations in the presence of someone who is trained to help them stay focused on resolving the conflict. An attorney-mediator can also draft documents to be filed with the court.

Can mediation work if we aren't talking to each other?

Separating or separated couples often feel stuck in a cycle of conflict before they start mediation. They may have tried counseling or negotiating directly between themselves. Even if these approaches haven’t worked, mediation can still be successful. The presence of a neutral and impartial third party creates a dynamic that helps achieve a level of communication with the other party that you would most likely not be able to reach on your own.

Why choose mediation?

Mediation is usually less expensive than litigation, but it also provides more control over the outcome and less stress and animosity. People who resolve their cases by mediation generally have a more amicable resolution in a more private environment. The solutions can be more creative and tailored to the needs of the parties. Studies also suggest that the effects of divorce on children are less severe when their parents can reach an agreement without a trial.

Why choose Lorena Reynolds as a mediator?

Lorena Reynolds has more than a decade of experience litigating high conflict divorce and custody cases. She has expertise in negotiating parenting plans that focus on the needs of children and practical financial agreements that take into account tax consequences and other after overlooked issues. She will work with you to achieve an outcome without a trial and with the least amount of bitterness and animosity possible. In family law cases, this can lead to an atmosphere where you can cooperatively parent your children into their adulthood.

What if we can't mediate?

If you know mediation is not for you, you can retain one of the attorneys at The Reynolds Law Firm, PC, to represent you. All of the attorneys are active litigators, representing parties in all types of family law litigation. They negotiate and litigate, and they are available to review agreements you may have mediated elsewhere. Once you start mediating with Lorena Reynolds as your mediator and then are unable to continue, you will be unable to retain her as your attorney because she cannot switch from being a neutral mediator to an advocate for one party against the other.

How long will the mediation take and how much will it cost?

Unfortunately, it is hard to predict with precision how long a mediation will take or how much mediation will cost. These issues depend primarily on how agreeable the participants are. Generally, for divorce matters, we meet between two and six times for approximately two hours each meeting. In other types of cases, the amount of time varies widely. The cost of a comprehensive mediated agreement generally ranges between $1,000.00 and $3,000.00. By way of contrast, Lorena Reynolds has litigated and tried divorces and custody cases where the attorneys fees exceeded $100,000.00 for each party.

What if we already agree on lots of issues?

Fantastic! The first thing that we want to do in mediation is to identify what you already agree on. Often those points of agreement can serve as a foundation for your overall agreement. Principals underlying agreements, on certain “easy” issues, can often be applied to resolve other issues. We will want to be sure that your agreement is well-informed and that you are aware of the many issues that you may want to consider. What is included in your agreement is up to you. Our goal is to support your well-informed decision-making.

What are our chances for success?

The success rate depends on the motivation of the parties to reach an agreement.

What if we don't reach an agreement?

In mediation, all discussions and materials, with very few listed exceptions, are confidential. If no mediated agreement is reached, evidence of the mediation discussions, mediation materials and any draft mediation resolution will not be admissible in court or any other adversarial proceeding.

Who pays for mediation?

Responsibility for mediation fees is an issue to be decided by mediation participants. Participants are encouraged to consider sharing fees to some extent so all will benefit from an expeditious and economic resolution.

What about our own attorneys?

As a mediator and attorney myself, I am ethically bound to advise you to have any mediated stipulated Judgment reviewed by individual legal counsel prior to your signing that agreement. In practice, I have found that it works best for mediating parties to obtain individual legal advice throughout the mediation process. This legal advice may be best obtained early in the mediation, by having legal counsel review a near-final draft agreement, and by having counsel review the final agreement. This level of consultation will dramatically elevate your comfort and confidence in the final agreement.

What about utilizing experts?

It may make sense, in a particular case, for mediation participants to retain mutually trusted experts. For example, participants may desire a valuation of real property, personal property, or a business. It is also not uncommon for mediating parties to choose to jointly consult with an accountant, appraiser, or tax expert. Mediation participants with parenting concerns may find it beneficial to obtain the thoughts and recommendations of a child psychologist. Mediation participants may choose to jointly retain an impartial advisory attorney who, based upon an agreed-upon set of facts, may render an advisory non-binding opinion on how a court might resolve the identified issues. Typically this technique is used when the parties reach an impasse on a difficult issue.

What else can I do to prepare?

Perhaps the most important thing any mediating party can do to ensure a satisfying and successful mediation experience is to prepare for the mediation discussions by seeking clarity as to his or her desired outcomes and perceived standards of fairness. Stated otherwise, “What do you want?” and “How will you know that it is alright to agree?”

Can you draft the legal documents?

Yes. As attorneys and mediators, our office can draft a legally binding settlement agreement and/or a Stipulated Judgment and have the documents filed with the Court. Having the documents drafted by the mediator is generally less expensive and contentious than having them drafted by an attorney representing one of the parties. Though, as stated above, having your own attorney review documents is recommended.

Hiring Us for Mediation

The Reynolds Law Firm, PC is committed to providing high quality, personalized representation for our clients. We encourage a collaborative approach, stressing mediation and negotiation whenever possible. We are experienced and compassionate, recognizing that every case is unique. Our attorneys, mediators, staff, and clients work together as a team. Clients receive copies of each document involving their case and are engaged throughout the process. We love kids and proudly offer a child-friendly office environment. Whenever children are involved in the legal process, our focus is on what is best for them.