Seeking Family Law or Divorce Mediation? Ukiah Firm Can Help.
When it comes to divorce and custody mediation, Ukiah-based Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office offers clients skilled assistance.
If you can avoid the courtroom, often you and your family will be much better off today and for years to come.
One of the ways you can avoid the courtroom is through use of a skilled mediating family court lawyer.
Our Ukiah divorce and family law mediator, Thomas Shields, is experienced in helping families achieve outcomes that save money and achieve resolution sooner.
We want to help you obtain assistance quickly while the Mendocino County family law court (and/or your attorneys, if applicable) may not be operating at full capacity. Due to the Corona Virus pandemic, the Mendocino County family law court is closed (except for limited emergency circumstances such as domestic violence issues or where a child is in immediate danger). Many attorneys are still struggling to get up and running remotely. Mediation is a way to work remotely now with our skilled mediator to help resolve Ukiah and Mendocino County custody, visitation, and divorce related issues, particularly during the Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic. Mediation can be used to resolve your entire divorce or custody matter without the need to go to court.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse, partner, or other parent meet with a neutral third-party called a mediator. Mediation may be used to resolve one particular issue or to resolve an entire divorce. A mediator does not legally represent either of you, nor do they advocate for either of you. No legal advice is provided by the mediator to either of you.
Rather, the mediator-attorney gives legal information to both of you. Mediation is most often based on a multitude of sessions lasting one to three hours each. The multiple sessions lays the groundwork for you and your spouse, partner, or other parent to work toward agreement(s) over time instead of pushing you to concede to a global agreement by the end of a single session.
About the Role of a Mediating Family Court Lawyer: Ukiah Divorce and Family Law Mediation
Our mediator facilitates you and your spouse, partner, or other parent in determining the areas of dispute(s):
- Our mediator provides a safe atmosphere for you and your spouse, partner, or other parent;
- Our mediator facilitates in managing you and your spouse, partner, or other parent’s emotions;
- Our mediator facilitates in balancing the power between you and your spouse, partner, or other parent;
- Our mediator facilitates you and your spouse, partner, or other parent in developing options and creative alternatives to resolve your dispute(s);
- Our mediator facilitates you and your spouse, partner, or other parent to get over hurdles to making agreements;
- Our mediator applies appropriate pressure if necessary to reach agreements and discusses implementation;
- Our mediator facilitates in communication and negotiation between you and your spouse, partner, or other parent to reach a consensual settlement;
- Our mediator and staff at Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office will prepare certain legal documents, if you both request such.
You and/or your spouse, partner, or other parent cannot be forced to accept a decision in mediation. Participating in mediation does not prevent you and/or your spouse, partner, or other parent from being able to obtain a court hearing.
You and/or your spouse, partner, or other parent are free to retain your own counsel. These lawyers may attend mediation sessions so long as both of you and our mediator consent in advance.
Some people in Ukiah mediation hire a consulting attorney to assist in the divorce process similar to a coach. When using the services of a mediating family court lawyer, our Ukiah/ Mendocino County mediation clients are encouraged to review any agreements made in mediation with their own attorney before finalizing them.
Benefits of Mediation:
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent control the mediation process;
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent select your mediator (and can terminate the mediator any time);
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent incur less attorney fees in the mediation process;
- The mediation is kept confidential (with limited exceptions);
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent have less strife (to the benefit of your children);
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent acquire useful parenting and communication skills;
- The mediation process is quicker than traditional divorce methods;
- The agreements are made up by you and your spouse, partner, or other parent on your own;
- You and your spouse, partner, or other parent’s lives are enriched!
Mediation Versus Mendocino County Court Litigation
You and your spouse, partner, or other parent have nominal, if any, input in when, where, or how court proceedings will be held.
This is all up to the court, the attorneys, and state law. In mediation, sessions can be scheduled by you and your spouse, partner, or other parent whenever you want.
You and your spouse, partner, or other parent can make your own creative agreements whether or not they conform with the California Family Code.
You and your spouse, partner, or other parent don’t get to hand-select your Judge. The Judge may have little or no experience practicing family law. The Judge may have their own perception (positive or negative) about you and/or your case.
It is very difficult to disqualify a Judge from your case. In mediation, you and your spouse, partner, or other parent pick their mediator. If either of you is dissatisfied with the mediator or the process, you can immediately fire the mediator.
In litigation, the Judge decides everything, impacting you and your spouse, partner, or other parent for years. The Judge, a stranger to both of you, is forced to swiftly make critical decisions for both of you and your family based on a limited set of facts. The Judge’s decision must conform with the California Family Law Code, regardless of how impractical that may be to your situation.
However, in mediation, you are not limited to making agreements based on state law. Mediation allows for much more flexibility. When you and your spouse, partner, or other parent make your own terms to agreements, the agreements stand a much better chance of being adhered to than orders made by a stranger.
Without a Mediating Family Court Lawyer, Ukiah Clients Can Expect…
Litigation costs can be quite excessive! Assuming both of you have lawyers, you are paying for all communications from you to your attorney, then your attorney back to you, then your attorney to your spouse, partner, or other parent’s attorney (and it goes on). Then your spouse, partner, or other parent is paying for the same onerous method of communication. Mediation can cut-out this costly “middle-man” way of communicating.
To make matters worse, much time is spent by litigants and their lawyers getting ready for court. This includes the process of “Discovery,” where one of you compels the other to produce specified information. This can get very expensive, particularly if one of you is uncooperative or if it is necessary to conduct depositions. Time spent in court– litigating or just waiting around for a hearing to commence is billed hourly by each attorney.
All the while, you and your spouse, partner, or other parent are probably losing wages because you’re away from work. Litigation expenses can quickly escalate if one or both of your attorneys are prone to constantly battle rather than attempt to reach a settlement.
Court proceedings are usually open to the public. The courtroom is often crowded with others waiting for their turn with the Judge, whereby nothing is private. Documents and agreements made through litigation are usually filed with the court making them public record. Your co-workers, potential employers, neighbors, friends, churches, and even your kids can view court documents of the most private nature even years later.
In mediation, all communications are protected from disclosure (with limited exceptions) unless both people of you to allow disclosure. You can choose whether mediated agreements are confidential or made public record.
In litigation, there’s usually a “win-lose” attitude by you and your spouse, partner, or other parent and your attorneys. This turns into competition and conflict between you. Mediation helps to avoid this by giving both of you tools to communicate and negotiate more effectively so that you can make the best agreements on your own. The reduced fighting and improved communication between you benefits you and your family well beyond the time in mediation.
Due to overcrowded court calendars, uncooperative spouses, and/or inflexible lawyers, the litigation process can be protracted over years! It usually takes at least one month just to get a case before a Judge, often only to be continued to a later date for various reasons. Mediation may start right away. Ukiah mediation may be scheduled as often as you both desire until agreements are made. This is particularly important while the Mendocino County family law court is closed during the Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic!
Mediation May be Right for You and/or Your Spouse, Partner, or Other Parent if:
- You’re not hiding assets;
- You both can cooperate in giving access to documentation;
- There is little chance that either of you will try to take advantage of the other;
- There is no history of abuse, violence, high conflict, or litigation;
- You ‘re both able to understand math, budgets, financial, and parenting issues;
- You both have been able to successfully solve problems and cooperate;
- You both can communicate with each other;
- You both want to reach a settlement;
- You are willing to incur a small cost to reduce the risk of contested litigation;
- If either of you hired lawyers, they support mediation.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation / Ukiah Family Law Mediation Cost?
There are many things that may affect the cost of mediation such as the complexity of the financial and legal issues, as well as you and your spouse, partner, or other parent’s emotional state and ability to negotiate.
Time outside of mediation sessions is necessary for the mediator to prepare summary letters, for phone/e-mail/written correspondence with both of you, and for legal document preparation (if requested). We are happy to provide you with our Ukiah mediator-attorney and paralegals’ current hourly rate by phone, email, or by our contact form CLICK HERE.
During the Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering expedited flat rate first appointments of up to 1 hour for $390 or up to 2 hours for $780. Most people split these fees 50/50 with their spouse, partner, or other parent. Of course, this is up to you and the other party.
At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we believe that the benefits to mediation far exceed that of litigation. In order to encourage you to mediate in Ukiah rather than litigate, if you decide to retain us on an on-going basis for mediation, we generally require a low retainer of no more than $2,500. This mediation retainer is much less than we require for a non-mediated case. Our Mendocino County mediator will discuss this in more detail during your first appointment with both of you and he will provide fee information in writing if both of you wish to retain us.
Who Pays for the Ukiah Mediator?
In Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office’s mediation fee agreement, you state how you want to allocate the fees and costs of the mediation. Some people divide the fees and costs equally. Others agree that only one of you will pay the fees and costs. Some agree to charge all fees and costs on one credit card and then negotiate who pays it later. Some agree to divide the fees and costs according to their respective salary (i.e. one pays 60%, the other pays 40%).
Still Unsure About Mediation?
Ask your friends or family about their experience in family law court, if they have experienced this.
Once open, go to the Mendocino County family law courthouse and witness the litigation system first-hand. Watch the lawyers and litigants in the lobby before court. Listen to and feel the stress and emotions of the litigants. Witness the court proceedings. Observe the adversarial nature of the communications by the lawyers and the parties. Take note of the marginal time the Judge has to deal with each case on their busy calendar.
See what little opportunity the parties have to address the Judge or even each other. Once you see this, we are confident that you will understand and appreciate the benefits and value that Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office can offer you through our divorce mediation, Ukiah-based services.
Are You Ready to Start Mediation?
At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we ask that both parties coordinate with each other to schedule the first appointment. To do this, we suggest that you share this web page with your other party.
Kindly ask them to review it and get back to you to let you know whether they are willing to schedule a mediation appointment and decide whether it will be up to 1 hour or up to 2 hours and how the fees will be allocated. If they agree, please contact us CLICK HERE. Of course, if the other party is not willing to consider family law or divorce mediation, Ukiah-based attorneys in our firm can help you with any of our other services. This is assuming we have not consulted with your spouse, partner, or other parent yet.
Ideally, you should call together to schedule the first appointment. If this is impractical, you should decide who will contact our office to schedule it. Please determine the best days and time frames for scheduling for each of you (and any dates in the near future when either is unavailable) before contacting us.
Be prepared to provide us with your spouse, partner, or other parent’s contact information including their e-mail address, if applicable. We will communicate with them to give them the appointment information once the appointment is made. Please let us know whether they prefer us to contact them by phone or by e-mail.
At the first mediation appointment, both of you will simultaneously meet by video or phone with our Ukiah mediator-attorney, Thomas Shields, to discuss the mediation process and begin exploring the issues in order to work toward reaching agreements.
If you decide during your first appointment to retain Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office for on-going mediation, we will provide a fee agreement for both of you to review, sign, and take care of the financial arrangements and schedule your next mediation session.
If you think you can benefit from family court or divorce mediation, Ukiah-based Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office serves clients in Fort Bragg, Redwood Valley, Willits, Mendocino, Boonville, Covelo, Laytonville, and surrounding communities.
Please check out our client reviews to see for yourself what our clients have to say about us. It’s our commitment to providing quality legal services in an efficient and friendly manner that sets us apart from the pack!