This post is the fourth in a five part series on questions you should ask your divorce attorney before you sign on the dotted line. Check out Part I here, Part II here, Part III here – and look forward to Part V in the next few days.
QUESTION 4: WHAT ABOUT MEDIATION?
Mediation can be a great way to fast-track what is often an incredibly slow, arduous divorce process. If the parties agree to attend mediation early on and the mediation process is successful, it can be cheap (relatively), fast, and amicable. There are a number of attorneys that do a great deal of family law, divorce, or child custody mediation in the Flathead/Kalispell area. If you are looking for a mediator, consider the following Flathead/Kalispell mediators (listed in no particular order): Shelly Brander at Kaufman, Vidal, Hileman, P.C. in Kalispell, MT; Vanessa Ceravolo in Kalispell, MT; Mary Obermiller in Kalispell, MT; Randy Schwickert in Whitefish, MT; Brian Muldoon in Whitefish, MT; or Joyce Funda in Kalispell, MT. Choosing a mediator is as important as choosing a lawyer. Feel free to shop around for the attorney that fits your needs. I encourage clients to find out the hourly rate of the mediator, the mediators availability, and to make sure they are comfortable with the mediator.
While Flathead County District Court has a local rule that requires alternative dispute resolution (i.e. mediation or settlement conference) prior to trial, parties are not required to attend mediation early on in the process. In other words, the parties must agree if the mediation is to take place early on in the divorce process. Some couples go to mediation before either one has filed for divorce or even before they have separated. Luckily, it seems most family law attorneys in the Flathead/Kalispell area are in agreement that early mediation can be beneficial in many circumstances. There are some cases, however, that early mediation is not the best option.
If you are represented by an attorney, you may want to discuss how your attorney can be a part of the mediation process. Many clients choose to take their attorneys to mediation. While that is a great idea, it can also be expensive – a client is paying for the attorney and the mediator. Talk with your attorney about ways they can assist you in the mediation process, while also conserving your valuable resources. Many of my clients choose to attend mediation (though I prepare them for the process) on their own and simply check in with me before they sign any settlement agreement on the dotted line.