Chester County Mediation Attorney
Simply stated, mediation is “assisted negotiation.” The mediator is impartial — with no vested interest in any particular outcome but committed to ensuring that the process by which each participant finds his or her way to an agreement is a fair one. A skilled mediator helps to create an atmosphere in which the participants can communicate more effectively and better understand both their own and the other’s point of view. The mediator never imposes a solution upon the parties nor presumes to advise them what they “should” do; he or she helps the parties to identify and articulate all concerns and interests that may need to be addressed and to acquire all the information needed to reach a circumspect decision. Learn more by contacting our West Chester family lawyers by EMAIL or calling us at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422.
A more apt term for “divorce mediation” would be “separation agreement” mediation. When a couple is in the process of divorce, they need to make important decisions about, among other things, future parenting arrangements, child support, property distribution, and spousal maintenance. The decisions a couple ultimately makes about these issues are memorialized by the attorney mediator in the “Separation Agreement” or “Stipulation of Settlement.” (If the mediator is a mental health professional, he or she may draft a “memorandum of understanding” which will then be converted by an attorney into a legal document.) When signed by the parties, it becomes a legally-binding contract. That agreement is ultimately filed in court and is incorporated in the divorce judgment.
As a mediator, I do not act as an attorney; I give no advice to either participant. I will, however, give the parties legal information to the extent they ask for it. That might include the definition of marital versus separate property, statutory factors in determining property distribution and maintenance, or the statutory formula used to calculate child support (they must be made aware of this). I will also alert them to tax implications of certain options they may be considering.
Choosing mediation does not mean forsaking lawyers. Although participants are typically not interested in bringing an attorney to the session itself, each may wish to consult with an attorney before or between sessions. Many couples have a strong preference not to do so until they are ready to sign the Separation Agreement. At that stage I strongly recommend that each retain independent counsel to review a preliminary draft of the agreement.
A lawyer is just one of a number of professionals a mediation participant may consult to help in making a prudent decision. If information is power, an imbalance of power is often remedied by consultations with attorneys, accountants, financial planners, child psychologists, or anyone else who might help clarify important issues. In the mediationÂ session itself, the participants and the mediator review the financial statements item by item for clarification or elaboration to ensure that both parties are fully informed.
There are times, to be sure, when the psychodynamics between divorcing spouses reflect a “balance of power” so skewed that mediation is inappropriate. Mediatio requires not only the capacity to agree, but the capacity to disagree. If one party is so intimidated by the other — the archetypical example being that of the battered spouse — then there can be no negotiation in any meaningful sense of that word.
Contact an Experienced West Chester Mediation Lawyer
Our Mediation practice is based in suburban Philadelphia at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19390, we make your choice all the clearer with locations throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia Pennsylvania, including Center City Philadelphia, West Chester PA, Malvern (serving Downingtown/Exton PA), Kennett Square PA, Lancaster PA, King of Prussia PA, Plymouth Meeting PA, Radnor and Springfield PA.
We serve Downingtown, Paoli, Media, Norristown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading and Allentown. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania Mediation Attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices, by contacting us at (610) 692-8700 or toll free at (877) 529-2422.