Mediation, as used at Martin Family Law Firm, is a voluntary and confidential process for discussing and resolving legal disputes with the guidance and help of a trained and experienced lawyer/mediator. Participants do not waive any rights. If parties successfully use mediation to reach a complete settlement, they do not have to go to court. The process of mediation offers an opportunity to learn about the law, to learn all of the facts, to discuss possible solutions, and to find the one solution that fits best.
The types of cases our firm most frequently mediates include Family Law cases (which are the ones involving divorce, legal separation, modifications of judgments and orders, premarital agreements, and so forth), and Probate cases (which are cases that involve conservatorships, family disputes with seniors, inheritance rights and disputes, will contests, and so on).
A Confidential Process
Mediation sessions are all confidential, which means what is said during mediation is not admissible in court. Similarly, documents prepared exclusively for mediation are not admissible in court. The mediator will not appear in court as a witness, nor are his or her notes "discoverable" nor admissible in court. This confidentiality offers everyone the chance to safely put all cards on the table, and to make sure they are all face up. Confidentiality encourages full disclosure without the risk that a settlement proposal will later be admitted in evidence to someone's detriment.
Mediation sessions are voluntary, meaning any participant (including the mediator) can withdraw at any time for any reason, without explanation or justification to the others. The mediator has no power or authority to impose any decision on any of the participants against their will. They enter into partial or complete settlement agreements only when each of the participants sees that a proposal is acceptable. As a result, mediation is a safe forum for fully discussing all issues, knowing that no decision will be imposed on anybody against his or her will.
A Process Overview
At Martin Family Law Firm, mediation typically begins with the parties each and all having an opportunity to privately read and review the Mediation Agreement. Our law firm's Mediation Agreement supplements the law regarding mediation which is already in place in California.
When the parties convene in our office for the first time, they all meet the meet with the mediator. The mediator spells out the "Communication Guidelines." If the participants agree to abide by those guidelines, then everybody signs the Mediation Agreement.
Although a retainer is requested in some cases, typically the mediator's fee is paid prior to each session. Fees for services other than mediation, such as preperation of pleadings or drafting of agreements, is commonly paid one-half when the assignment is made, and the balance when the documents are delivered.
Family Law Cases
In divorce and related family law cases, the mediator helps the participants to identify their agenda for the first session and beyond. The types of issues that are addressed in mediation of a Family Law case include all of the issues that would otherwise be addressed in the more expensive and time-consuming litigation process. These include property characterization and division; spousal and child support; co-parenting issues (child custody and visitation); and tax issues relative to divorce and family law.
In conservatorship and probate cases, the types of legal issues that can be resolved include family conflicts involving seniors and their adult children, such as placement and visitation. Other issues might extend to financial topics, such as costs of maintaining a senior and appropriate investment plans.
If you are considering mediation as an appropriate process for identifying and resolving a legal issue you face, please call our office and talk to one our attorney/mediators. We do not charge for such telephone inquiries about the process. If after discussing mediation you would like to receive and review a copy of our Mediation Agreement, we will send one to you.
At Martin Family Law Firm we do not charge for calls inquiring about mediation or collaboration.
in fees, expense, and waste of time."