Family Conflict: Many factors contribute to family conflict which often causes the family to break up. Resolving conflict and managing stress in a family are difficult. When expectations, rights, and responsibilities are properly restructured and realigned, the family is able to move beyond the conflict.
Mediation: Mediation provides a thoughtful, sensible, and efficient process to resolve family conflict. It allows the family members to maintain control of restructuring and realigning their expectations, rights, and responsibilities. The mediation process is designed to encourage the family members to cooperate and participate in making the decisions that will affect them, their children, and others in the future. With the help of a skilled mediator, the parties negotiate directly with each other to reach an agreement on all aspects such as the division of property, parenting arrangements, and child support. In order for a couple to mediate successfully, they do not have to be best friends. Marital difficulties are often accompanied by anger, distrust, and a breakdown in communication between spouses. A skilled mediator can diffuse negative feelings and help each party present his or her needs in a way that the other can hear and understand. This enables the parties to fashion an agreement acceptable to both.
Mediator's Role: The mediator is an impartial, neutral person who is skilled in effective negotiation and problem-solving strategies. The mediator assists the parties to communicate as they explore options for resolving their conflict. The conflict could arise from issues of trust, incompatibility, finances, debt, parenting options, child support, custody, visitation, property and debt division, maintenance (alimony), and other such divorce and post-divorce issues. A mediator does not impose his or her own judgment on the issues for that of the parties. Likewise, a mediator does not choose sides. Also, a mediator does not provide legal advice, counseling, or therapy to either party.
Making Decisions: In our traditional adversarial legal system, each spouse hires a separate lawyer. The lawyers spend substantial time negotiating with each other and then additional time communicating the outcome of the negotiations to their respective clients. If the lawyers are not successful in reaching an agreement, the issues surrounding the divorce will be decided by a judge. In mediation, you (and not the lawyers or the judge) make the decisions that affect your life. The power and right to decide what is best and workable remain solely within the family, as it should be. You are more likely to be happy with the final result, and be more willing to follow through with your commitments than if your settlement had been ordered by a court.
Avoiding the Endless War: Our adversarial legal system pits one party against the other making only one of them the "winner." The legal process offers little opportunity for compromise. Divorce lawyers are trained to be advocates, to win the case and defeat the other side. The process called "discovery" gives lawyers the tools with which to attack the opponent and to gain psychological and legal advantage. Depositions (questioning under oath before trial) of friends, family, and business associates, production of numerous documents, scrutinizing personal activities, and evaluation and criticism of each spouse's role as a parent, are all part of the tactics to win. This results in the loss of dignity, self-respect, and privacy. And, the children? They are helplessly entangled and genuinely confused, for they love both parents. It is truly damaging for the family.
Saving Big: Why pay huge attorney fees and other expenses? Contested divorce and post-divorce proceedings run into thousands of dollars and are emotionally and financially draining on family members. Litigation delays divorce, sometimes for several years, compromises privacy, and depletes marital assets that could be divided between the parties or allocated to provide for the children. Most custody, support, and property division issues can be resolved through mediation in two to three sessions, making it possible to immediately stop or altogether avoid the needless emotional and financial toll.
Moving it Along Quickly: Through mediation you can quickly resolve your differences, come to an agreement, and have your divorce or modification finalized by the judge within 60 days from the date the matter is filed in court.
Saying & Doing Things Differently: As family members explore options with the help of a skilled mediator, they get an opportunity to use techniques that enable them to communicate effectively and almost immediately begin to appreciate its power. Many couples with children report that participation in mediation has improved their ability to resolve new issues concerning their children after the divorce. Also, children of parents who resolve their differences through mediation often adjust better to their parent's divorce.
Talking Freely: By law, all communications between the mediator and the parties are unconditionally confidential. A mediator cannot be compelled to testify in a court of law as to what the parties said during a mediation session.
Power Imbalance: Sometimes in a relationship, one party dominates the other, and the weaker party is put at an impossible disadvantage when trying to represent himself or herself. Power imbalances range from resource possession to intimidation and even outright physical and emotional abuse. This is a valid concern, especially if you feel that you are the weaker party, and even more so if abuse is involved. A skilled mediator is trained to detect the presence of power imbalances and abuse, and uses specific interventions to influence the balance of power to ensure that each party feels confident in presenting the merits of his or her needs and concerns.
Taking Charge: If you, or anyone you know, may benefit from mediation, then please call or send us an email. All communications are fully confidential, and the initial phone consultation is free.
Convenient Appointment Time: All our appointments are at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Service Area: The Greater Kansas City area, including Johnson County, Kansas.
Fees & Payment: The fee is $250 per hour of mediation. In a typical divorce case, it takes an average of two hours of mediation to reach an agreement on all issues. There is a minimum charge of an hour for each mediation session. Payment by check or cash is due at the end of each session. You will not be charged for the initial phone consultation, or for preparation of letters that contain the terms of your agreement.
Post-Mediation: After the mediation, we will send you a letter containing the terms of your agreement along with other required documents. If you present a copy of that letter and the other documents to an attorney, that attorney will be able to prepare the legal paperwork for your divorce, file them with the court, and take you through an uncontested hearing. You may choose your own attorney or we can refer you to one who has agreed to do it for a substantially reduced flat fee plus the court filing fee of about $160. (This attorney referral, with the substantially reduced fee, is available only in conjunction with mediation. Also, this attorney is not affiliated with or employed by Family Conflict Management. If you choose to hire this attorney, it will be an arrangement exclusively between you and this attorney and will not involve Family Conflict Management.) If minor children are involved, both parents will have to attend a parenting class prior to the divorce hearing. We will provide you information on this.