PHASES OF MEDIATION
INTRODUCTION + PHASE 1
In the introductory meeting, we will typically outline what to expect in mediation; identify your goals, hopes and concerns; and address any pressing issues.
Gathering Financial Information:
You will develop budgets; estimate the values of real property, investment, retirement and business assets; and gather balances of mortgages, credit cards, and other debts. You may have valuations of pensions or businesses; or you may value assets that were acquired before the relationship.
As you separate, you may be adjusting your career path; you may work with a career counselor to create a timeline and income estimate as part of the separation.
Gathering Parenting Information:
We will review current schedules for the children and parents; locations of current and expected housing, schools, activities and friends; and your thoughts as to what works and what is difficult for the children.
Outcome of Phase 1:
You will have a property summary; a budget for each household plus one for child expenses; a summary of cash flow; and one or more draft parenting schedules. You will also have a timeline for reaching settlement and submitting final agreements to the court. Depending on your needs, you may have additional valuations or reports.
Meetings are often by zoom, and may be in person.
OVERVIEW OF SERVICES
Divorce and separation are life events, with legal components. There are many professionals who have important skills in assisting clients to create a settlement that aligned with their values, resources, and goals. Mediation and collaboration are flexible tools. In response to the needs of each case, I will suggest other resources to include as part of the process.
I work both as a mediator on a mediation team, and as an attorney on a collaborative team. In both cases, the team will include one or more professionals licensed in law, finance, mental health, or other related field. The intention is to efficiently provide services specific to the needs of clients, in support of robust, thoughtful, and informed settlements.
I work in a solo practice; other professionals will have their separate practices. We do not share fees among ourselves: there are no referral fees, and no split fees.
Joanna often will work jointly with other professionals.
Co-mediation. Joanna and another professional provide mediation services together. Joanna will reduce her usual rate by $100 per hour.
In co-mediation, meetings are typically conducted with both mediators present. Joanna will pair with one co-mediator with a complementary background. For example, clients often decide that their mediation would go more smoothly with mental health support; Joanna would then work alongside with a mediator with a mental health background. In other cases, clients with complex finances may appreciate the guidance of a financially trained co-mediator. Joanna will sometimes pair with a fully licensed and less experienced mediator. In all cases, Joanna reduces her usual fee by $100/hour for joint meeting time.
Mediation with collaborative attorneys. Joanna works as the mediator; clients also have their own collaboratively trained attorneys, and attorneys are heavily involved in the mediation. Suitable particularly for more complex or higher-conflict cases. Click here for more information.
Clients will choose to include their attorneys in the mediation sessions when it is important to have real-time legal advice. Examples of complex cases include questions about the ability to parent, a history of violent or abusive behavior, and mental health concerns. The mediator will coordinate with attorneys and with clients throughout the mediation process.
In the above examples, Joanna will work closely with the other professionals. In contrast, when providing services separately, Joanna will have little to no contact with the professionals. Clients will often simply bring in their work from the other professional into mediation with Joanna. Clients usually come to Joanna last, in order to build on the work with the other professional and complete the settlement. Joanna will usually draft the necessary paperwork, so that the legal process is reduced to a series of administrative tasks.
Clients will often work first with a Child specialist Clients may complete some or all of their parenting discussions with a child specialist, largely independent of the work that we do together. Joanna’s services would then focus on the financial settlement, handling the paperwork for the divorce, and guiding clients through implementation.
Another common example is when clients work separately with a financial neutral. The financial neutral may develop a. model of their finances, which they then bring with them to our mediation. Joanna then focuses on parenting issues. As needed, Joanna would be available to document the financial agreement, and assist clients with entering final papers with the court and also with implementation.
It is common to work with related professionals for limited tasks. For example, we will sometimes find that we need technical information, or that there is a specific need that requires a specific professional. These professionals rarely attend mediation sessions.
QDRO attorneys prepare orders to transfer 401K assets as part of a divorce;
Vocational consultants can contribute where a career transition is happening simultaneously with a divorce or separation;
Agreed realtors assist with the anticipated sale of real estate, and/or may provide an estimate of market value;
Agreed appraisers will value real estate;
Addiction specialists are important for parents to make informed and durable settlements where there are questions of addition;
Pension valuators will convert a future pension payout into a lump sum to facilitate a financial discussion.
Business valuators will assist with assigning a value to a privately held business operated by one spouse.
Most clients will work with a consulting attorney, either for intermittent discussions over the course of the mediation, or to review documents toward the end.
COLLABORATIVE ATTORNEY SERVICES
Collaborative practice his is another example of an integrated team. A typical collaborative team in King County will comprise two collaborative attorneys, one mental health neutral, one financial neutral, and often a child specialist. Obviously, this team is larger than most mediation tems, and tends to be suited to higher conflict or more complex situations. Collaborative practice can be useful in complex situations where it is important to have will real-time legal services. Joanna works as a collaborative attorney. If you believe a collaborative approach could be a fit for you, let's discuss in an introductory meeting.