Sometimes you don't want to go through the traditional adversary approach to a divorce, custody or parenting time case. There are other ways to try to get your issues addressed and move on with your life. Two of the more common ones are "Mediation" and the "Collaborative Law" process. Both of these methods encourage parties to work together to come up with a solution.
I, Elizabeth Toole, am a trained registered mediator. I believe mediation can be a helpful and less expensive alternative to the traditional court process.
Mediation works by having the parties meet with a neutral person called a mediator. The mediator is "neutral" because she does not have a connection to the parties. The mediator also is not like a judge who makes orders after hearing the facts of the case. The goal of the mediator is to listen to both sides of the dispute and help the parties find common ground so that they can reach an agreement without the stress, confrontation and expense of court time.
The mediator meets with each of the parties, sometimes in separate rooms, sometimes with everyone in the same room. The meeting can be as long or short as needed. Each party has the option of hiring an attorney to be there with him or her, but an attorney is not required. The mediator will talk to each party to understand what the issues are from each side's perspective. The mediator then tries to find a solution with the parties that will help them resolve their differences. Creative solutions for individual unique situations can be explored. If the case is successfully mediated, the parties can move forward with an agreement they all work on writing together. This agreement is written down and signed by all the parties. It will then be submitted to the court for approval as a court order. Once approved, the agreement becomes a court order that can then be enforced and, if people do not follow the agreement into which they entered, it is as strong and any other court order. But at least this order the parties have control over creating rather than leaving it up to the court to decide for them.
As an attorney and a mediator, I am happy to either represent a party in the mediation process or be the one to mediate the case. If you are interested in hiring me as the mediator in your case, please let me know right at the beginning of our meeting. As I mentioned earlier, it is important that a mediator remain neutral so that both sides feel they are being treated fairly.
I am also trained in the collaborative law process which is another way to approach family disputes. It is most frequently used in divorce cases but can be used in other kinds of cases as well.
In a collaborative law case, all the parties are required to have lawyers representing them. The process is a team approach. All the parties and their lawyers meet together to try move the case forward. It is more informal than the traditional advocacy process and encourages issues to be resolved outside of court. It also can allow the parties to voice their concerns to each other so that everyone understands better what is at stake. If there are complicated financial or emotional issues, other professionals can be brought into the process to help the parties find solutions that are best suited for them. Since everyone is working together to try to resolve the case, even if not all in agreement at the beginning about what needs to happen, it tends to be less expensive than the usual litigation. If an agreement is reached, it is written in a document that is signed by all the parties and submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, it becomes a court order. However, if an agreement is not reached, then the attorneys have to withdraw from the case and the parties will have to find new attorneys to represent them. This helps motivate parties to work hard to find a way to resolve their differences.
For free initial consultation, call Toole Law Offices at 260-428-2219 or contact me online.