Mediation is a dispute resolution process. A mediator is a neutral party assisting people to resolve their disputes. Mediators do not provide legal advice or make decisions for the parties, but instead assist the parties in reaching a voluntary agreement.
Margaret mediates a variety of cases: primarily divorces, but also neighbor disputes, estate settlements, and landlord-tenant issues.
Margaret mediates disputes using a process called interest-based or facilitative mediation. In that process, both parties meet to discuss directly with one another the issues they are trying to resolve. We strive to identify the underlying values and goals of the parties. Agreements which address underlying interests are longer lasting and more satisfying for the parties. Consideration of underlying interests may also make creative solutions more evident.
Margaret has received specialized training in guiding people through difficult conversations, in developing creative options, and in finding ways to compromise. She provides an emotionally supportive and safe environment for those conversations. Margaret works to ensure that both parties have access to the information they need to make good decisions and an equal opportunity to express their concerns, make requests, compromise, and work though difficult emotions.
Prior to the first mediation session, Margaret helps the parties gather information about finances, including income, real estate, investments, retirement accounts, mortgages, credit cards and other debts. When applicable, She guides the parties through the process of obtaining real estate appraisals, exploring refinancing options, and valuing business assets. She helps each party to develop budgets for their lives after divorce. During the mediation sessions, Margaret facilitates a series of conversations to develop agreements to achieve a financial outcome both parties can live with.
Margaret also assists the parties in identifying their goals and concerns with respect to their children’s care, schedules, education, and child-related expenses and budgets. Once again, she assists the parties in talking through concerns and options, and ultimately, finding the best possible arrangement for the children in a two-home family. You'll also discuss income, budgets, and special child expenses to reach an agreement on issues such as child support transfer payments and sharing of child care and extracurricular activity expenses.
Most of Margaret's mediations take place early in a dispute — before legal proceedings and hearings have commenced. Attorneys representing the parties do not typically attend the mediations, although special arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis.
In a legal dispute, each party has adverse legal interests. In a divorce, those adverse legal interest could include property division and spousal support. Some outcomes may be advantageous to one party and not to the other. Consequently, many people retain their own attorney to negotiate the best results for themselves. When Margaret serves as mediator, she does not provide legal advice and cannot represent either party if the mediation fails to reach an agreement. For that reason, Margaret recommends that each party to seek the advice of an attorney at various points in the mediation.
In Washington, ethics rules prohibit mediators from drafting the final legal documents. If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, Margaret refers the parties to an attorney to draft and review the final documents.
Studies have shown that mediation results in greater satisfaction of the parties. Agreements reached through mediation are often more durable than resolution reached through a court process. Mediation tends to be less expensive than litigation.
Margaret charges $150.00 per hour plus costs incurred. Thus, it costs $450.00 for each 3-hour mediation session. Margaret's time communicating with parties before and between session, compiling data and options, and other time is charged hourly at $150.00 per hour. Margaret requests an advance fee payment of $600.00 at the beginning of the process.
A good mediator can address imbalances in power, help with constructive communication, empower each party to identify and assert his or her interests, and can help people who have difficulty compromising. That said, mediation might not be the right option if: