WHY USE MEDIATION?
Mediation can:Save each party a significant amount of money.Lessen or avoid the acrimony between parties.Empower each party to have significant input into the decision making process.Assist parties to acquire the vital information necessary to make informed decisions.Engender a cooperative atmosphere verses a competitive atmosphere between parties.Allow parties to jointly benefit from resources such as experts and consultants.Foster clear and relevant communication.Set the groundwork for any necessary future relationship/business matters between the parties achieve a fair and reasonable settlement in a timely manner.
WHAT MATTERS CAN BE MEDIATED? This office can assist you to in the following areas:
-Mediation to Stay Married (Marital Mediation and Couples Mediation)
- Prenuptial Agreements- Divorce and Separation Issues
- Family and Family Business Concerns (including Family Partnerships)
- Estate, Guardianship and Elder Care Matters
- Real Estate and Zoning Matters
- Neighborhood Deputes- Business to Business Matters
- Employment and Workplace Conflicts
- Commercial Disputes
- Personal Injury and Tort Claims
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A MEDIATOR?
You should choose a mediator with careful consideration. The process and success of your mediation will be greatly affected by your choice of this professional. Ask questions about the mediators experience, philosophy and fee structure, and be certain to get a copy of their fee/retainer agreement as it would apply to your matter. In some cases co-mediation may be your best approach, so ask questions and schedule an initial consultation to learn about the process of mediation, as well as the mediator who can assist you.
HOW MUCH DOES MEDIATION COST? WHAT FEES DO MEDIATORS CHARGE?
Every situation involves different issues. The fee is based upon the time it takes the parties to reach an agreement, and the level of complexity of that agreement. Your mediator may not require an initial retainer and he/she may agree to be paid for their time at the end of each mediation session. Often mediated matters can range from $2000.00 to $8,000.00 whereas complex, contested matters that are litigated can cost each party ten times that amount. Hourly rates for mediators vary, and I have seen fees range from $150.00 an hour to $500.00 an hour. Your mediator should provide you with a written fee agreement which clearly sets out their hourly rate, whether or not a retainer is needed and specifically how billing works with their office. At your initial consultation with Nora Daniels she will discuss the fee structure that would apply to your case and give you a proposed written fee agreement.
HOW LONG WILL MEDIATION TAKE?
In mediation, reaching an agreement can take one session or several sessions. Many mediators schedule sessions in two hour blocks of time. There are cases that reach an agreement in less than one session, others that take a series of meetings and consultations. If a matter is settled by mediation, almost always it will settle more quickly than it will in an in an adversarial court proceeding. Adversarial proceedings can take years to reach a decision and the scheduling of events is usually not in a party’s direct control. In mediation the parties set the time and meeting schedules.
ARE MEDIATION SESSIONS CONFIDENTIAL?
Massachusetts law (Chapter 233, Section 23C) protects any communication made in the course of the mediation. It includes all memorandum, written materials and the mediator's case file. Additionally, if the mediation fails the mediator will not become a witness for or against either spouse.Confidentiality under this statute requires that the parties sign an agreement to mediate with a qualified mediator.When confidentiality is protected it allows the parties to conduct the mediation in an open and safe manner. People are more secure sharing information when it cannot be used for purposes other than the mediation.See: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/233-23c.htm
WILL THE MEDIATOR MAKE DECISIONS FOR US? WILL THEY TAKE SIDES?
A mediator does not make decisions, rather a skilled mediator helps the parties to make informed decisions.No, a good mediator does not take sides, your mediator should be impartial. A skilled mediator is able to put his/her biases on hold in order to help parties reach an agreement.
SHOULD MY MEDIATOR BE A LAWYER?
In Massachusetts, there is no requirement that a mediator be a practicing attorney. However, non-lawyer mediators are not able to perform some of the duties that their attorney colleagues can do to assist parties. For example, non-lawyer mediators are prohibited from drafting a separation agreement, because this is considered the unauthorized practice of law. Couples completing mediation with a non-lawyer often hire an attorney afterward to draft a separation agreement based on the results of mediation. A mediator who is also an attorney can draft a separation agreement that the couple can later take to court when finalizing their divorce. In many matter the expertise of an attorney may be useful, even critical, in your mediation if you require information on legal issues. For other matters, expertise in mental health issues or developmental issues can be of significant benefit to parties. In such cases, this office offers co-mediation, wherein parties have the benefit of two skilled mediators, one an attorney and one a licensed mental health professional. (Please see our section on Co-Mediation.)
DO YOU STILL NEED A LAWYER IF YOU USE MEDIATION?
Rarely does a mediator require a client to retain an attorney, however, there are times when mediators recommend that each client consult with a lawyer at some point during the mediation. Some mediation clients hire consulting lawyers during mediation because they have legal work which they want done during the course of mediation, such as transferring real estate, working with zoning boards, applying for patents/trademarks, or drafting estate planning documents.
CAN WE STILL GO TO COURT?
Yes, when you use mediation, you do not give up your right to go to Court. If you are not satisfied in mediation, you can stop at any time, retain a separate attorney and have the Court decide the unresolved issues. What has occurred in mediation is legally confidential (See: M.G.L. Chapter 233, Section 23C ) and cannot be repeated in court. Also in many matters when settlement is reached in mediation, you may need to file the settlement agreement in Court or with another judicial or administrative body as part of enforcing/acknowledging the settlement that you have reach through mediation.
IF WE USE MEDIATION, CAN WE ACHIEVE AN AGREEMENT THAT IS LEGALLY BINDING?
Yes, once you have reached an agreement in mediation, both parties can then consent to it becoming binding.
WHAT TYPICALLY HAPPENS IN THE FIRST MEDIATION SESSION?
Your first session will provide a detailed explanation of the mediation process. You will review and sign a mediation process agreement that includes the fee agreement with your mediator(s) and which sets forth the confidentiality of the mediation process. Each party will get a copy of all documents that are signed or exchanged. The mediator will obtain pertinent initial information from each party and you can begin to discuss your interests and issues in a respectful manner, with the goal of reaching a fair and reasonable resolution. If the matter is not settled in the initial session, your mediator may develop a list of documents or information that is needed for the process, an agenda for your next session and most importantly the mediator will remain impartial and use their expertise and mediation skills to work with you to determine what are the next best steps to facilitate settlement.
HOW DO WE START?
You can start the process by calling Nora Daniels at 781-444-8888 to schedule an initial appointment, or you can email her at email@example.com. She will work with you to schedule an appointment that is convenient and she will discuss with you any initial documents or questions that you may wish to bring to your meeting as well as other ways that you may want to prepare for your first mediation session