Gresham Divorce Mediation Lawyers
At its core, mediation is a process that allows divorcing couples the opportunity to work through disputes with a neutral third party before it becomes necessary to go before a judge. If you would like to discuss your specific situation and needs further, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Lillian S. Watson, who is a trained Gresham divorce and mediation attorney. If you elect to meet with Mrs. Watson as a mediator, she must remain neutral and cannot represent either party separately. If mediation will help you and your spouse reach a complete agreement, it may be appropriate to only have an attorney-mediator meet with you both and finalize your documents.
At Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law, Lillian Suelzle Watson is a trained mediator/attorney who will work with both of you to help you make decisions, prepare documents and have the final documents signed and filed with the appropriate court. As a mediator/attorney Lillian must remain neutral party and does not represent either of you, but can answer your legal questions. Usually this will take two or three meetings to discuss your issues and desires.
Multnomah County Family Law Mediation Attorneys
By resolving potential disputes through mediation, individuals typically note several positives about the experience, including:
- Shorter duration than traditional trial litigation
- Lower cost than litigation
- Nonconfrontational atmosphere
- Neutral, objective mediator encourages the exchange of ideas
Additionally, many individuals feel better about the compromises that were reached because they had a stake in the terms. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced Oregon lawyer trained in mediation to discuss your unique situation in greater detail.
Contact The Firm
If you have concerns regarding family mediation or collaborative divorce, we encourage you to contact Lillian Watson at Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law. She can be reached at 503-492-4229 or by completing the online contact form on this website.
Are there other ways to settle our divorce without going to court?
Yes, there are several options you can follow: You can learn more about various methods to resolve your divorce without court by using some of the terms discussed below, or find and compare the various professionals trained in these skills. Mrs. Watson would be glad to discuss your choices at an initial consultation.
I have heard the term Alternate Dispute Resolution. Is mediation a type of ADR used to help us settle our divorce?
Mediation or collaborative law are both examples of alternative dispute resolutions. It is important that you choose the correct process to fit your circumstances. These are but options to assist you in coming to your own decisions, with the support you need you and your spouse can reach a final agreement. Whether you have a short-term marriage, have children, own property or have joint debts, these can be resolved through mediation. The arising or unresolved issues will determine how much time and planning it will take to end your marriage. Sometimes it is quite simple, sometimes more complicated. That is why one method is not right for every couple.
Can Mrs. Watson explain various options available to use?
Yes, in her initial consultation she will discuss processes available to you. Your choices include coaching, mediation, mediation or full lawyer representation. An initial consultation is not a commitment, but an opportunity to choose the route that will meet your needs. Mrs. Watson has practiced family law since 2001. She was an active trial attorney for over 15 years and has assisted in a settlement in hundreds of cases. Her practice currently focuses on various methods to resolve divorce outside of litigation. She has completed extensive training in both collaborative law and mediation.
What is the purpose of mediation in finalizing a divorce?
Mediation is a process where both spouses discuss their differences to resolve their divorce with the help of a neutral professional. A trained mediator often has a background or training as a counselor or a child specialist; many attorneys are also trained in mediation. Through mediation, individuals can reach a final agreement which then can be turned into an enforceable judgment.
How is mediation used in a divorce?
When a husband and wife have decided to divorce, they may agree on several aspects of their divorce; but often there are one, two or more areas where they cannot agree. With the use of a mediator (a neutral professional) as a guide, they can discuss their different positions and often reach an agreement without resorting to asking the court to make the final decision for them. Not anyone should act as a mediator as they need to understand their role in not siding with one spouse or insert their own opinions. A mediator is not acting as a Judge who makes decisions for you, but they may share their legal knowledge and experiences about the court’s role in the process.
What is the benefit of using an attorney experienced in family law as a mediator?
Many family lawyers are trained in mediation which provides the skills needed to be a neutral. Because they are a neutral, they cannot take sides or provide legal advice, but that does not mean they cannot explain legal principles or guidelines. This advice is provided in a neutral manner that allows you both to understand how the court would review the question but the decision you reach may be based on the law or on your joint choices.
How long does the process take?
It can be completed in a few meeting but participation always voluntary. Expect at about three in addition to the initial conference. The exact timing will depend on your issues and Mrs. Watson’s availability to meet and your time concerns. Mrs. Watson is available to schedule meetings as required by your schedule. It is possible to schedule meetings late in the afternoon into the early evening and occasionally on a Saturday.
What if we cannot reach an agreement?
Once you hire Mrs. Watson is your mediator, she ethically cannot represent either of you in either the collaborative or traditional method, as all mediation discussions are confidential. You are not prevented from switching to a collaborative method or traditional litigation if all efforts to settle fail. In fact, Mrs. Watson encourages you both to have your settlement reviewed by an outside attorney. If before you hire Mrs. Watson as a mediator you decide that collaborative law is a better choice, and if you both agree, Mrs. Watson is available to represent one of you. Hopefully, your mediation is successful, but it is often worth the time to attempt settling all of your unresolved issues.
What can I expect at the initial conference?
When you initially meet with the mediator/ attorney she will want to learn about you both and whether this is a suitable process for your resolution. Where there is a great deal of power in balance, or there is a history of physical violence or mental abuse, mediation may not be the right process for dissolving the marriage. However, another choice would be to use two attorneys trained in a “collaborative method” which still keeps your divorce in your control but each of you has separate attorneys. I will discuss the collaborative divorce process later and focus on the mediation process.
How much will it cost to complete our divorce through mediation?
Mrs. Watson will review costs in more detail at your initial meeting, but she charges $150 for the initial meeting (about 30-45 minutes). At the initial meeting, she will review your issues, help you determine if mediation is appropriate in your circumstances and estimate how many meetings she anticipates the process to take. She will ask you to complete “homework” so that you each understand where you stand financially both before and after your divorce. After the initial meeting, it should take one full meeting to determine what issues will need to be addressed, Then you will set as many meetings as necessary to discuss the other complicated issues and then a meeting to document your final decisions. Mrs. Watson’s rate is $280 per hour after the initial appointment. Usually, this process is faster and more economical than you proceeding through the courts in a traditional method.
What if we need an additional meeting or two to reach an agreement?
After the initial meeting, Mrs. Watson’s can schedule as meeting meetings as needed to resolve your issues, so there is no reason not to finish. This is one of the benefits of mediation, as you do not depend on a court calendar but you can set meetings as often as necessary and focus on the issues important to your relationship during a time frame you choose. Mrs. Watson can set several meetings in advance based on your schedule if that is helpful.
Who can we have prepare our final court documents?
You can have your individual attorney(s) prepare documents based on your mediated agreement; you can file self-help form; or, you can have Mrs. Watson prepare co-petition documents to be filed with the court. If you request that Mrs. Watson prepare your final documents, we will need a separate meeting to review draft documents, possibly one to sign and then to finalize the process. You can ask Mrs. Watson to prepare the documents necessary to complete your divorce but this is a separate fee from mediation time. Mrs. Watson can discuss the costs involved when you meet for the initial consultation. She often can offer you a set fee for document preparation. Remember you are not legally divorced until a circuit court judge approves and signs your Judgment.
What if each of us has already hired our individual attorneys?
Mrs. Watson has worked with many of the family attorneys in our metropolitan area. Check with your attorney and see who they recommend as a mediator. Remember you are always the client and you have the choice to choose who you would like to resolve your family issues. Mediation is typically before the court will schedule a trial in front of a Judge so your attorney has been trained how to utilize mediation in various circumstances. Often an attorney may elect to be a part of this process and could attend some sessions.
What if we have children?
If you have children under 18, or if your children are between 18 and 21, the divorce judgment must address their needs. Again, you and your spouse can make many if not most of the decisions regarding custody and parenting time. If you are uncertain how to define your ongoing relationship with your children, you can use the free country parenting time mediators or ask Mrs. Watson for guidelines. There are lots of tools you can use and she can point you to professionals to help with this decision. Again, if you resort to traditional litigation, a judge will decide your parenting time. Although most parties eventually settle the question of custody and parenting time, your attorney may spend hours (which equals cost) preparing for trial. When you elect mediation (or collaborative method) you both keep the decisions between you. This can help you in your co-parenting together after the divorce is final (and save time and money).
Who decides the amount of child support that will be ordered?
The amount of child support is decided on various statutory factors and a judge is reluctant to sign off on any agreements that do not comply with the statutory formula. However, there are various factors that are considered. Mrs. Watson is experienced in establishing child support and can work with you both to arrive at an amount that is fair and agreeable to both parents. Remember if your child is between 18 and 21, they become a party to your divorce and have a right to be supported by their parents.
What is the collaborative method?
Instead of having one neutral professional, you have two trained attorneys who help you settle your divorce amicably. Again, you use trained attorneys (who may also be trained as a mediator) but each has the advice of your own attorney to reach a final agreement. Again, the negotiations are confidential and are focused on settlement. Your attorneys will help you decide if you need outside professionals (trained coaches) in areas such as custody or child issues, financial advice, appraisal experts or other coaches to help you through the process. By agreeing at the start that you will avoid the traditional process, you open your negotiations without fear of trial. If it is impossible to resolve your issues and reach a full settlement, you can proceed to trial. Be sure to discuss this question in detail with your collaborative attorney.
Does a collaborative divorce cost more than mediation?
It is likely Collaborative Law will cost more than Mediation as you are using two attorneys to reach the final decisions. However, if either of you wishes to have your own attorney who is able to provide you individual legal advice, Collaborative Law may be the option for you. Again, you are avoiding the costs that a family attorney often incurs during in a traditional divorce such as service costs, discovery and appearing in court on various issues. In some cases, the court is the right direction and may be necessary for a complete resolution of your issues. However, if you and your spouse can reach a settlement in several meetings you may be able to resolve your divorce in a much faster time frame and jointly work together as you reach your final decisions and also control legal costs.
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