Mediation: A More Peaceful And Cooperative Divorce Solution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an alternate option to litigation or a judge deciding your case. ADR includes mediation, collaborative practice and out-of-court negotiations and settlement. A majority of my practice is dedicated to these alternative methods of resolution to find common ground and reach a fair agreement. I have spent many years litigation divorce and family matters and have seen the division, expense and stress that litigation can carry with it for the long term. That is why I added divorce mediation to my practice 15 years ago, and I am so invested in the mediation process and passionated about how it works and why it works. I have been on the Federal Court mediation panel for the Western District of New York since July 2019.
What To Know When Considering Mediation
Often, clients think that they have to come to mediation with everything already worked out between them or that it’s not possible for mediation to work for them because they are so far apart in their positions. Thankfully, this isn’t true. My job as a mediator is to help you reach a fair agreement by gathering information, listening to your concerns, facilitating communication and finding common ground within which to solve the problem. I truly believe that anything can be mediated so long as both parties remain willing to negotiate. I have been mediating for many years and started my solo practice because I wanted to be a mediator.
Although the topics can certainly be difficult to discuss at times, the process of addressing those topics directly, in a controlled setting with an experienced and neutral attorney-mediator, provides long-term benefits to those involved. In addition to my experience in and knowledge of family law, my current real estate practice helps to round out my abilities to mediate matters relating to debts, the marital residence, refinance, the sale of property and other issues that often arise during a divorce.
How The Process Works
Mediation is the process where parties meet with a mediator to discuss the area of dispute and reach a fair settlement. I act as a neutral discussion facilitator in this process. I do not represent either party in this process as their attorney. My approach is a combination of transformative, evaluative (should the parties request it) and facilitative mediation. Each mediation is different, and the participants require different input from me based on their particular situation and relationship.
During mediation sessions, I will offer suggestions on how to solve a particular problem after both parties have had an opportunity to share their concerns. During a typical divorce mediation in which children are involved, we discuss different types of custody, parenting time, holidays and vacations. We also discuss how to manage marital debt as well as retirement assets, and figure out what is separate property and what is marital property and equitably distribute that property in a reasonable fashion. We will go through spousal and child support calculations and talk about how that may or may not be applied in your particular situation.
Mediation is about making fully informed decisions. To that end, financial disclosure and information will be shared so that each party can have an opportunity to review financial information before making settlement decisions and reaching an agreement. I can also provide legal consult and advise on agreements reached with another mediator or offered to you by your spouse’s attorney. If mediation is not fit for some reason, I can work with you to negotiate a divorce settlement by collaborative methods and approach.
The Benefits of Choosing Mediation Over Litigated Divorce
The mediation process is often faster and less expensive than litigation. We will meet at times convenient for you and as often as you’d like as opposed to every four to six weeks in a litigation setting. When parties are having a dialogue directly with each other rather than going through their counsel, the conversation moves at a quicker pace, and an agreement can be reached more quickly. Attorney review of the proposed agreement is a necessary part of this process so that each party has the advice of their counsel before signing this important document.
Most importantly, mediation allows you to make these major life decisions yourself rather than a judge imposing their decisions on your life. I strive to guide my mediation clients through a difficult time with understanding and compassion and in a professional yet comfortable atmosphere. I provide my mediation clients with the information necessary to allow them to make informed decisions so that they may successfully navigate this phase of their lives.
Can we mediate if we are already in court? Absolutely. I can enter your contested divorce proceeding with a fresh perspective, give you both an opportunity to be heard and work to get through the impasse holding up the resolution of your divorce.
Already In Agreement? Try Uncontested Divorce.
If you and your spouse have already reached a complete agreement on the terms of your divorce, you can file for uncontested divorce. This is typically an appropriate option for couples without children, with no assets in dispute and parting on amicable terms. Although uncontested divorce is often the fastest and easiest form of divorce, you should still work with an attorney to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you extra time, money or legal headaches. My firm is ready to help you ensure that your uncontested divorce is smoothly and efficiently resolved.
Contact Me To Discuss Your Options
Michelle S. Bullock Law & Mediation PLLC is based in Amherst and serves clients throughout Western New York. To arrange a consultation with me, call my office at 716-209-3662 or simply fill out the contact form. Initial consultations for mediation are free.