Family law mediation

Family Law Mediation Attorneys

It’s crushing to everyone when a family breaks apart, but family law mediation can ease the burden.  We all know that lost dreams and anger get mixed with hurt feelings and sadness.  Emotions are running high.  In the midst of all the family chaos, some very practical things need to get sorted out — things like custody of the children, housing arrangements and the legalities of divorce.

Before rushing to a courtroom and getting a judge involved, consider the alternative of family law mediation.  The great benefit of mediation is that you retain some control over the decisions being made about your future and that of your children.  Judges know little about your case or your family, but they are forced to make decisions in the courtroom that will affect you and your loved ones for the rest of your lives.  Through mediation, adults can reach creative agreements themselves about custody, child support, divorce and assets that are designed to fit their own family’s unique needs.

Family law mediation can lower the temperature of disagreements and create a safe and structured space in which requests can be exchanged and solutions ironed out.  Adults maintain the ability to make decisions about when to stand firm and when to compromise.  A family law mediation attorney can help guide you through the process.

McNeely Stephenson Law Firm has extensive training and experience in family law mediation and has helped clients in Kentuckiana for many years.  Attorney Dana Eberle-Peay is both knowledgeable and compassionate, and she understands how to help families reach agreements and move on with their lives.  If you would like to learn more about family law mediation, contact Dana at (812) 725-8224 for a confidential initial conversation.

How Does Family Law Mediation Work?

The mediator will help you and your attorney assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and find a middle ground that all parties can live with.  The goal of family law mediation is to avoid the risks inherent with judge-ordered divorces and custody arrangements, while reaching sometimes creative agreements that are workable for everyone. There is no “winner” or “loser” in family law mediation.  Contrast this with arguments before a judge who then makes the decisions — one party inevitably walks out of court very disappointed in the results.

In a confidential environment, the mediator assists each party in communicating what is important to her or him and listening to what is important to the other person. With support from the mediator, the parties:

  • identify the matters that need to be resolved;
  • prioritize the issues and examine them one at a time;
  • discuss potential solutions;
  • come to a mutual understanding about parenting plans, financial matters or other issues;
  • prepare a draft of their emerging agreement; and
  • revise, edit, and prepare the agreement for signing.

Why Do I Need a Family Law Mediation Attorney?

Different attorneys focus on different aspects of the law.  Some concentrate on contracts, property, estate planning or taxes.  Others, like Dana Eberle-Peay, have extensive training in working with families and the law.  Dana, who understands the unique needs of families, knows that one size does not fit all when it comes to legal answers.  She is a good listener and is committed to discovering solutions and creating agreements that everyone can feel comfortable about.  She will sit beside you at the table throughout the mediation process.

Mediation and Divorce

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement.  Rather than having an impersonal judge impose a decision on you based on rigid legal principles, divorce mediation enables you and your spouse to work out a settlement that you both think is fair and workable.  In divorce mediation, a third-party negotiator facilitates the process.  The mediator is impartial and does not make decisions – they simply facilitate.  Both you and your spouse will have your own attorneys present.  The facilitator and your attorneys are there to help you figure out what’s best in a structured, peaceful and meaningful process.  Divorce mediation can be cheaper than going to court, and it is quicker.

Family law mediation

A case in which divorce mediation may not be appropriate is when there has been domestic violence or abuse.  With such cases, a formal order that prevents the abuse victim from having any contact with the abusing spouse is often best.

Mediation and Child Custody

In most cases, both parents want to protect the children involved and do what’s best for them.  However, each spouse may have a very different idea about what’s best and what the children need.  That’s where mediation can help with finding child custody solutions.  Emotions tend to run very high when the wellbeing of children is at stake.  That’s why a structured, quiet and private mediation environment can be helpful.

Mediation is a non-adversarial approach to problem solving, and therefore solutions are often arrived at more quickly.  Child custody issues can be worked out through mediation in a day rather than the months or years it can take for a trial judge to finalize child custody decisions.  Because of mediation’s non-adversarial approach, parties are often willing to speak more freely and are more likely to be willing to compromise.

Also, it’s important to remember that using mediation can help set the tone of your relationships going forward.  When under-age children are involved, that means you and your ex-spouse are going to have to communicate regularly in the future, at the very least about drop-off and pick-up times, school issues and vacations.  The less damage you do to the relationship during divorce and initial child-custody decisions, the easier it will be to transition into a future of constructive co-parenting.

Mediation can also be valuable when a parent eventually moves and resides in another state or country.  Obviously, child custody arrangements may need to be updated depending on whether a parent lives across town or across the country.  As parents’ future lives evolve individually with careers, new marriages and home ownership, parties do not need to rush back into court to renegotiate child custody agreements.  They can cooperatively create a workable arrangement through family law mediation.

Mediation and Child Support

Family law mediation attorneyWhen talking about money, the tension in a room can escalate.  Bitterness and blaming rise to the surface, fueled by financial fears.  Mistrust about spending habits and child priorities can also add to the stress.  Choosing a structured mediation process to work out child support issues can not only benefit ex-spouses, but it can also be less stressful for the children.  Children hate to see their parents fighting and hurling accusations at each other, and children often blame themselves when parents’ marriages break down.  Acrimonious and drawn-out child support disagreements in court simply add to children’s feelings of self-blame.

Using family law mediation to sort out child support is preferable to testimony and legal documents in courtrooms for several reasons.  First, mediation produces no public records that can be read months or years later by family members, grown children or others.  Second, mediation is almost always less expensive than going to court, because it takes much less time.  Third, you and your ex-spouse get to make final decisions in child support mediation rather than having them made by a judge who knows little about your individual family’s history or situation.

Also, keep in mind that mediators are skilled and do this for a living.  Even with couples who are fighting, they are often able to bring parties together to reach a solution for the sake of the children.

McNeely Stephenson Can Help with Family Law Mediation

If you are ready to pursue family law mediation, be sure to choose a lawyer with experience and integrity.  Attorney Dana Eberle-Peay is skilled and compassionate, and she understands how to help families reach agreements and move forward with their lives.  If you would like to learn more about family law mediation, contact Dana at (812) 725-8224 for a confidential initial conversation.

The Cornerstones of Family Law Mediation

Family law mediation is a form of “alternative dispute resolution.”  This means that it is an alternative to conventional lawsuits, judges and courtrooms.  Its purpose is to provide a reliable and efficient structure for families to iron out disagreements and reach resolutions.

Family law mediation is based on these principles:

  • Voluntariness
  • Transparency
  • Mutual Respect.

Family mediation is non-confrontational at its core and is viewed as a progressive form of decision-making.  It encourages parties to focus on the solution and the future rather than staying stuck in the problem and the past.

It is also designed to put an end to the emotional wreckage rather than creating more of it.  In the view of family mediation, everybody has already been hurt enough.  No more damage needs to be done.  Solutions are proactively sought so that everyone can be free to move on.

Family law mediation has evolved both publicly and privately throughout the world in different countries.  It is often the preferred dispute resolution method of modern families.  Courts often order parties to mediation prior to a full-blown hearing. It can be a healthier and less stressful solution not only for the two parties involved, but for extended family and friends as well.

The Role of the Mediator

Lawyers for family law mediationA mediator is not a judge and does not make any decisions. Her or his primary goal is to support both parties in creating an agreement that they mutually can live with.  Unlike judges, mediators often create unique agreements that deviate from the norm, because they are tailor-made by the couple to fit their children’s personalities, the family budget and school considerations. Mediators are expected to meet individually with each side and actively listen to each party’s concerns and desires.  The process is designed so everyone benefits, not just one side.

Mediation Has Positive Effects on Children

When mediation is chosen over litigation, it can have a very positive effect on home life.  It is comforting for children to watch their parents collaborate and reach solutions together.  It sets a tone in the home of respect, civility and dignity.  No party is scapegoated or blamed incessantly.  Rather, children can feel safe knowing that each parent is acting with and being treated with respect and consideration.  Also, mature children can discuss their preferences about when and where they live with each parent and feel that this is being taken into consideration.  This collaboration allows children to sleep at night, go on with school work and spend time with friends without worrying about their parents fighting.

Why McNeely Stephenson Is an Exceptional Choice

The attorneys at McNeely Stephenson live in the communities they serve, and they have a vested interest in maintaining families’ dignity and creating workable living arrangements for everyone involved.  Your situation is not a name on a file folder at McNeely Stephenson.  Rather, you are a family with individual personalities, unique family histories and your own future goals.  Attorney Dana Eberle-Peay is highly experienced, and she understands how to help families create agreements that take into account everyone’s needs.  If you would like to learn more about family law mediation, contact Dana at (812) 725-8224 for a confidential initial conversation.