Mediation

MEDIATION

Family Law Mediations | Donald P. DeCort, Esquire

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an alternative way to address divorce and family issues outside of the court system. It is a private, confidential, and non-adversarial process designed to help parties resolve sensitive issues in a manner that is often the least expensive and least devastating to the family. Mediation is mandatory in all initial and in many post-judgment family law cases. Mediation may be court-ordered or agreed to by the parties, and may be conducted by a court Mediation and Diversion office or private mediator.

The Mediator's Role

The mediator’s role is to do the following:

  • Remain neutral, impartial, and objective
  • Create an atmosphere where issues can be identified and discussed openly and freely and where positions can be compromised in order to achieve a fair and reasonable result
  • Help the parties involved arrive at an agreement and thereby avoid the necessity of engaging in contentious and often costly litigation in court

A Confidential Process

Because mediation is a confidential process, both parties must keep any and all communications and negotiations in mediation confidential. Neither party is permitted to solicit or engage the mediator as a witness in any litigation or legal proceeding nor request or use any records or documents of the mediator for the purpose of litigation.

In some instances, information disclosed during mediation may not be held confidential. These situations include the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Elder abuse or neglect
  • Commission of crime or fraud or as part of a plan to commit crime or fraud
  • All other matters as may be required by law

Independent Legal Counsel

Parties may participate in mediation with or without counsel. Bear in mind that although your mediator may be a family law attorney, he or she as mediator cannot provide legal counsel or legal advice. That can only be provided by the independent legal counsel you choose to represent you. As in any legal situation, you would be well-served to talk openly with your attorney throughout the entire mediation process. Your attorney may participate in the mediation sessions.

Separate Sessions May Be Requested

During mediation, the mediator may request to meet separately with one or more persons while others are not present. All discussions will be considered confidential within that session and will not be disclosed without the permission of those present during the separate session.

Domestic Violence Concerns

If there has been any domestic violence in your relationship that may limit either party’s ability to effectively participate in mediation or raise safety concerns, you should advise the mediator prior to your meeting. If this issue arises, you and the mediator should discuss whether mediation can proceed and develop an appropriate plan of action.

Child Support Guidelines

The court has specific guidelines for determining child support obligations. At your request, the mediator may assist you both with the financial calculation of the approximate amounts. However, the parties ultimately accept responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the amounts agreed upon.

Written Guidelines

If you successfully reach an agreement, the mediator prepares a written summary of your agreement that can be submitted to your separate attorneys, if you have them, for review.

Fee Schedule

Mediation fees

Mediation fees are based upon combined gross income as follows:

Combined Gross Income | Hourly Rate
0-$100,000 – $200.00/hr
>$100,000 but <$150,000 – $250.00/hr
>$150,000 – $300.00/hr

The same rate applies to the time involved in preparation, conferences, research, writing memoranda, consulting with advisory counsel, or other time spent on your behalf. Payment is due at the end of each session for session work and any other work Don DeCort performs as mediator for you. Fees for time reserved will be charged for sessions canceled less than 24 hours in advance.

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