How to Begin the Mediation Process

How to Begin the Mediatio…

Hi, I'm Laura Ruvolo Lipp from Family Focused Legal Solutions in Morristown, New Jersey.

Welcome to our new Youtube channel!

Today. I'm going to explain to you, in detail, how to begin the mediation process. In addition to our other family law legal services, our firm also has a mediation department. We conduct both private mediations for people who are voluntarily taking the initiative to try mediation, as well as mediation ordered by a judge through the economic mediation program.

Now, before I begin, I must make it clear that the videos our firm makes for you should not be construed as legal advice for your particular circumstances. These videos are really just meant to be an educational tool to help you better understand certain concepts legal issues and processes regarding the world of family law. Particularly the world of New Jersey family law. If you need legal advice you should be scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney. If you're in New Jersey you can reach out to us at Family Focused Legal Solutions. You can learn more about us on our website familyfocuslegal.com or give us a call at 973-993-9960. If your case is not in New Jersey, you'll want to contact a family law attorney in your jurisdiction.

Faily law is extremely fact sensitive and the laws and processes are different in every state, so please keep that in mind when you're watching our videos.

Now that I've clarified that let's continue. Mediation is a wonderful tool that saves families legal fees, time, anxiety and stress that comes with all that uncertainty and the loss of control over your own destiny. Sometimes the experience can also teach the people involved how to better communicate with each other to avoid unnecessary conflict in the future and thereby avoiding all of that unnecessary stress even for future issues.

First we're going to talk about court-ordered mediation, specifically court ordered economic mediation. If your mediation is being ordered by a judge it's usually what we call economic mediation. This means that the purpose of our firm's involvement will generally be limited to helping you resolve financial issues, not custody or parenting time issues.

Most courthouses have separate mediators on staff used at no cost to lit against, if a judge is going to order custody or parenting time mediation. So, you can ask about that if you're in that situation.

If you want to use our mediation services for court-ordered economic mediation, your attorneys will need to choose what's called a qualified mediator from your county courthouse's roster. The mediators in our firm will be listed on there. If you cannot find our names on the court roster of your county courthouse, please just let us know then. We'll correct that error. In the meantime, we'll honor that discounted hourly rate in the two free hours that we provide as part of that economic mediation program through the court system.

Now your attorney will, after they pick our name from the roster, call our office to schedule your first mediation session. They will then submit the name of the mediator from our firm and the date and time of your first session to the judge's staff. The judge will then issue an order called order of referral to MESP mediation program or something similar to that. Before the first session, your attorneys will submit to our firm whatever information or documents they think we will need in order to prepare for your first session.

If you don't have attorneys and you're doing this on your own and you're self-represented the process I described just now is still the same and you'll still follow those same steps of picking our name from the roster, calling our office to schedule your first session and giving the judge our information, etc.

So, that was court order mediation. Now, I'm going to describe to you private mediation.

If you're not in a situation in which you're being ordered by a court to participate in economic mediation but you want to possibly retain our firm to assist you in resolving your legal issues through mediation, you're going to call our office yourself and schedule a consultation. Before you call us, you need to think through the following:

  • do you want someone from our firm to be the mediator in your case

or

  • do you want someone from our firm to be your attorney in your matter but you're interested in resolving your matter through mediation.

This distinction is very important. Our firm's role in your matter would be very different and the consultation you'll need to schedule would therefore also be very different.

Once we serve in one capacity, even just during the consultation, we usually can't then serve in the other capacity due to a conflict of interest that may arise. Even though some of our family law attorneys in our firms are mediators and even though our mediators are also family law attorneys, we can only serve in one of those two capacities in any given case. Therefore it's important to think about your preference for our involvement before you call.

Now if your answer is you want an attorney from our firm to serve as independent counsel to you in your matter, but you really hope to resolve your issues through mediation, then when you call you're scheduling a regular consultation with one of our attorneys. That attorney does not need to be a mediator. We can explain the mediation process to you during your consultation. We can speak with you about your possible positions and advise you on the next steps of your case. We'll also help you obtain and exchange all the information and documentation you need in order to understand all that you need to do and all the facts in your matter before you're ready to mediate. We can also help you choose a mediator and then help you prepare for the mediation session itself if you'd like. We can also accompany you to the mediation and go to the sessions with you to answer all of your questions along the way. We can speak on your behalf if you want us to. We can make sure that all of the issues and reasonably anticipated issues are properly addressed during your mediation and that they're properly fleshed out in a fair and equitable way and to avoid any confusion down the line.

Now if your answer is, you want us to be the mediator in your case and that's why you're calling our firm, you need to be very specific with our client intake specialist when you call. You need to tell her that you're thinking of retaining one of the mediators at our firm and you need to schedule a mediation consultation.

A mediation consultation is very different than our standard consultations. First, it's a half hour long rather than an hour long. Second, it's conducted by phone. Third, both parties must be on the call participating in the consultation. We cannot speak to only one of you during this consultation because we're serving a neutral role and we can't speak with or meet with only one of you at this stage. If you cannot compare your calendars beforehand, then both of you should be on that call to schedule the mediation consultation. That way our client intake specialist can efficiently schedule it to take place on a day and time that works for both of you.

You do not want to lose too much time with back and forth when you're scheduling this consultation because by the time you call again, what was once an available window of time on our schedule the last time we spoke with you may have been filled by another case.

After you schedule your consultation, our client intake specialist will email each of you forms to fill out to help us understand basic information about you and your family, as well as, your goals for your mediation experience.

Now let's talk about the mediation consultation.

Once you're on the phone, both of you at the same time, with me or one of our other mediators - now as I explained the mediation consultation is approximately 30 minutes long. It's done by phone and it's done with both parties at the same time and it's at no charge.

Unlike a regularly old consultation in our firm, the focus of a mediation consultation is very narrow. The mediator will explain to both parties how the mediation process works and the different approaches to mediation. We will then answer all of your questions about the process itself. We will not be discussing your specific circumstances in detail during that consultation or give you legal advice. In fact, we will explain to you that when an attorney acts as a mediator in any case they are prohibited from giving either party legal advice. As mediators we must maintain a neutral role and focus solely on facilitating a fair and equitable settlement.

If you want legal advice during the mediation process, you will need to retain independent counsel, an attorney of your choice. We will remind you of that that you have that right and that you should retain an attorney of your own during the mediation if we feel that you need that reminder. And we will welcome your attorney's presence during the mediation session if you choose to go that route. We want you to feel comfortable and confident and productive at your mediation sessions and we understand that having your own attorney present also goes a long way towards achieving that.

If you wish to involve an attorney in your mediation, but you don't know where to start and consulting one, we would be happy to recommend several what we call mediation friendly attorneys for you if you want to consider contacting one of them.

Now the mediator will end the consultation by explaining our mediation retainer which our client intake specialist will email to you at the conclusion of the consultation. She will also email you various forms to fill out regarding your facts your, financials if applicable so all of those details are at our fingertips during your mediation session and time and money is not wasted trying to obtain that information when we're already in the session or after the session.

I hope you found this helpful. If you'd like to learn more about New Jersey family law or about our firm check out our website at familyfocuslegal.com.

If you live in New Jersey or if you're a party to a case or a family law case in New Jersey, even if you don't live here, and you'd like to try to resolve your case through mediation, we'd love to help you! To schedule your complimentary mediation consultation, just give us a call at 973-993-9960 or fill out the contact us form through our website.

If you like this video, please click on the like button and also hit subscribe before you close out of YouTube. And if you have any ideas or requests for future videos that you would like us to make, please let us know in the comments and we'd be happy to do them for you.

Alright, take care!