An ounce of mediation is worth a pound of arbitration and a ton of litigation.
- Joseph Grynbaum
What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process that allows you to resolve your family's dispute with the assistance of an impartial third party. The mediator helps the parties jointly create a mutually acceptable solution. Mediation can help families in many different situations, including divorce, legal separation, custody disputes, property disputes, parenting time, and marital settlement agreements.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation has many benefits over bringing a case to court. Mediation is a confidential process compared to public trials. The mediation process is informal and empowers the parties to control the decision-making process. In litigation, the parties give the judge the decision-making authority. The judge listens to the presented facts and makes a decision. The judge's decision may only benefit one side – which may not be you.
Mediation will likely be faster than going to court. Mediation can allow the parties to start thinking about a beneficial resolution sooner than the court process. Starting the mediation process before litigation may help you control the outcome and often results in a positive long-term solution for both parties.
If you find yourself in a dispute that will be going to trial, Oregon courts usually require that the parties participate in confidential mediation and attempt to settle the case. Usually, this mediative process occurs close to the trial. The parties feel pressured to settle a case, which may not result in the best long-term solution for you or your family.
Mediation also allows the family to be flexible in its approach to dispute resolution. A mediator will help you determine whether other specialists are needed to help clarify your options and resolve your dispute.
Mediation encourages each of the parties to be open with each other. In a divorce, the parties are sharing information willingly to ensure that the issues are fully explored. This is distinct from litigation, where the parties are not necessarily open with each other. Although there are some disclosure obligations during litigation, the parties must engage in the discovery process to ensure that all information is available.
What does the mediation process look like?
Mediation can be a flexible process. Typically, the process begins with the mediator meeting with the clients individually to help them set goals and identify their interests. Then, the mediator will meet with the clients jointly to help them work together to achieve their individual goals and reach an appropriate resolution to the dispute. Patrick may ask the parties to meet with him individually, in caucus, to discuss particularly sensitive issues or if the parties do not appear to constructively communicate together. Sessions are usually scheduled for two hours. As a mediator, Patrick will meet with the clients as often as necessary to help them reach an appropriate resolution.
In divorce mediation, many issues may need to be addressed, such as division of the marital assets, spousal support, child support, parenting time. These are difficult and emotional issues. Patrick is committed to helping you constructively explore all of these issues together and find a fitting resolution.
What are the costs of mediation?
Mediation is often less expensive than litigation, although it is not possible to predict in advance the costs of either mediation or a trial. Patrick charges $200 per hour to act as a mediator. This includes the cost of preparing for mediation sessions and preparing any post-mediation documents. The clients split the mediator's fee and additional expert fees. In contrast, for litigation, each party would pay their litigation costs, such as hiring attorneys and individual experts, pay for investigations, and pay for trial if necessary.
Clarity Law recommends that all clients consult with a lawyer before engaging in the mediation process and rely on an attorney to support them through mediation. However, this is known as an unbundled legal service and the client only pays for the attorney as needed.
How can Clarity Law help you with mediation?
Patrick Ward is fully trained as a family mediator and is a proud member of the Oregon Mediation Association. He continues to train as a mediator. He has patience, persistence, and common sense and will help you through the dispute resolution process. He will make every effort to help the clients see different perspectives and will help facilitate resolutions. As a mediator, Patrick could not represent any party to the mediation.