Mediation and Settlement Facilitation
For Divorce or Custody Cases
Mediation and settlement facilitation are not the same process, but they have some similarities. Ms. Burmester at NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC is experienced in serving as both a private mediator and a settlement facilitator. Call 505-881-2566 to schedule an appointment to learn more.
Mediation – Private Cases
Couples considering divorce or how to raise their children post-breakup want to make the process as painless, quick and inexpensive as possible. Mediation is definitely worth considering. In true mediation, there is one professional involved who does not represent either party, but serves as a neutral person who helps the couple negotiate an agreement they can live with.
While some therapists and accountants act as mediator, it is much better to have one lawyer serve as the mediator, especially if the couple wants the mediator to prepare the legal paperwork that spells out the agreement reached. Only a lawyer such as Ms. Burmester at NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC can draft court pleadings. However, sometimes the parties need expertise in financial matters and can benefit from going to one accountant to sort through the financial documents, or a good child psychologist or family therapist can help the parents work through co-parenting disputes. The couple can tap the expertise of these other professionals, but still use a single attorney mediator.
The mediator must remain neutral in order to create a successful divorce process. If this is a process you think you may want to pursue, you and your partner or spouse should meet with the attorney at the initial consultation together. Once a lawyer hears only “one side of the story,” that attorney is no longer truly neutral. Also, all emails and letters by the mediator should be sent to both parties at the same time, so everyone is on the same page and it does not look like one spouse / parent is trying to get the mediator on his or her “side.”
Mediation can take place in one or multiple meetings. The more prepared the couple and mediator are, the more productive the meeting will be. The parties will need to provide the mediator with the financial documents necessary to understand:
- What property and debts are involved
- The gross income of both parents to calculate child support
- The average monthly income and expenses to evaluate whether the alimony is needed or appropriate in the overall circumstances
Mediation does not work for all couples wanting to divorce. For example, if there is a major imbalance of power in the relationship where one spouse dominates and the other spouse usually gives in, then the “weaker” spouse may cave and give up too much just to end the conflict. Another example is if one spouse knows all the finances and assets and the other spouse now has to “trust” that there will be full disclosure of the financial picture but trust is minimal, then the spouse in the dark may hold on to unreasonable expectations about child support, alimony or property division.
with Court Clinic in Albuquerque or Family Court Services in Santa Fe
Mediation through services affiliated with specific courts is different than private mediation. Court-affiliated services usually focus only on child custody and co-parenting issues; they do not address child support, alimony or spousal support or property and debt division. Also, there is often a fee for certain kinds of services offered by Court Clinic in Albuquerque and Family Court Services in Santa Fe and both parties share those fees. Contact the local service for its informational brochures on services they offer including any associated fees.
Settlement facilitation also involves a neutral professional, usually a lawyer or a lawyer teamed up with an accountant or psychologist, but there’s often a little more arm-twisting involved. In Albuquerque, you cannot get a trial date set without first going through the settlement facilitation process. Mary Ann Burmester at NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC is a trained facilitator and can help you with the process.
The settlement facilitator does not represent either party and if a party has a lawyer, then that lawyer will provide key information to the facilitator in advance and attends the facilitation meeting. Settlement facilitation is usually done in one meeting, either half-day or full-day. The settlement facilitator can and does offer his or her opinion on the various settlement offers made and how the particular judge may rule if the parties do not reach an agreement and ask the judge to decide.
A good settlement facilitator provides an honest “reality check” for both parties on how the case will come out if it goes to trial. Mary Ann Burmester at NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC is an honest and dedicated settlement facilitator that can help you understand your legal options. This usually helps the couple make practical concessions to reach an agreement without the time, expense and uncertainty of going to court.
Neither private mediation nor settlement facilitation is free. The facilitator gets paid for his or her time as well as the parties’ attorneys. However, it is more affordable to settle your disagreements this way than to go through a trial.
Mediation and Settlement Facilitation in Albuquerque, NM
NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC in Albuquerque, New Mexico can help you and your spouse amicably solve your differences with mediation and settlement facilitation tactics. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment with Ms. Mary Ann Burmester to learn more about your options and which is right for you.