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A neutral, Family Law Attorney Mediator facilitates conversations between you to help you arrive at a divorce agreement about how you will share your assets and debts, spousal and child support, and how you will share time and expenses related to your children.
An Attorney Mediator can inform you about the law, but as a neutral professional cannot give either of you legal advice or clarify what is or is not in your best interest. Because of this, most Mediators recommend that you each consult with a “mediation-friendly” Family Law Attorney before agreeing to specific matters during the mediation. A “mediation-friendly” Consulting Attorney is one who:
- Is trained in both Mediation & Collaborative Protocols,
- Looks out for your best interests in the short- and long-run,
- Is skilled at working collaboratively with other attorneys and professionals, and also
- Actively supports your efforts to mediate and avoid the significant emotional, relational and financial costs associated with going to court.
All of VDC's Attorneys serve as both Mediators and Consulting Attorneys.
Important Note About Mediation: Literally anyone can take a 30-40 course in mediation and advertise themselves as “divorce mediators.” Mediation is not a profession overseen and regulated by the state or any governing body. Our view is that the primary mediator must always be a licensed family law attorney, educated and knowledgeable about the law and the writing up of legal documents. In addition to being trained mediators, all VDC professionals are licensed or certified in their fields of expertise, with a specialty in Divorce and/or Trusts & Estates, in addition to being trained in interdisciplinary Collaborative Team Protocols.
Co-Mediation & Team Mediation
If a couple chooses to Mediate, the primary mediator is always one of our Family Law Attorneys. Because this Mediator is also collaboratively trained, expect your Mediator to ask you to call in a Communication Coach or Financial Specialist if needed to ensure you get to the Mediated Divorce finish line, without going to court.
You do NOT have to trust one another to ensure financial transparency in a Mediation, particularly when your professionals are collaboratively trained (ask us more about this!). It is also a myth that you must already be civil and respectful to mediate effectively. Many high-conflict couples get through a Mediation provided they have adequate communication and financial support.
Depending on your needs, when only one collaboratively trained professional is called in, that professional is said to “Co-Mediate.”
A “Team Mediation” refers to when specific professionals are called to gather/organize financial data, contain conflict, assess the specific needs of children, make sure you both can qualify for loans, or to get comps on real estate, for example. These professionals are likely to participate on an as-needed basis – it may be one time, or more depending on your skill and ability to get to the finish line on your own, while still avoiding court. While Team Mediation can be less expensive (although not always!), it short-cuts many of the protocols and unique services and skills-building provided in a Collaborative Divorce.
Parenting Plan Mediation
For couples with children, all of VDC’s Mental Health Professionals are trained to mediate a Parenting Plan (referred to in Court as a “custody agreement”). Our parenting plans also educate parents and provide detail that help you anticipate your children’s specific, future developmental needs and concerns. Parenting Plans mediated outside of court offer many alternatives not available in litigated divorces, which are limited by provisions in the law. The mediated Parenting Plan is formalized and incorporated by the primary Attorney Mediator in the final divorce agreement submitted to the Court. See our “Resources” page for a sample so you can both work out as much as possible on your own.