Most people are only consumers of Family Mediation once in their lives, so naturally they have lots of questions about what it is, and isn't. Below are the most common questions I get when people contact me about mediation. Take a look and if you still have questions, feel free to give me a call at 301-730-7310 or drop me a note at CreeksideMediation@gmail.com for more info.
WHAT IS MEDIATION? Mediation is a facilitated conversation between you and your spouse/co-parent with a neutral. That's the fancy answer. In reality mediation is simply a better way to resolve your issues. Why is it better? Well, who knows your family better than you? Mediation allows you to be the decision makers for your family and for your future. It is faster, self-directed and cheaper than litigation (court). Mediation is not a judge and jury situation - you are not convincing me of anything and I will not make decisions for you, but I will help you have guided conversations so you can make decisions for yourself.
WHO IS INVOLVED? The process involves you and your spouse/co-parent sitting down with the mediator together. If each of you have an attorney, they can come too - but they don't have to (here's a good article about attorney involvement in mediation www.mediate.com/articles/kaufman-mediation-lawyers.cfm). That's a decision you need to make with your attorney.
WHERE DOES IT TAKE PLACE? We will meet all together in sessions of approximately two hours each at the Creekside Mediation office (NOTE: At this time all mediations are taking place via Zoom. Please see the drop down link about on-line mediation above for more information on that process), which is located in downtown Frederick across from the courthouse. Creekside Mediation is a mediation-only practice and is set up to be a relaxed atmosphere with multiple conversation and meeting room spaces for mediation to take place in an informal and comfortable atmosphere.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? My fee is $300 per hour for time spent in mediation. When you reach a comprehensive agreement, I can draft your Points of Agreement Reached in Mediation (POA) ready for filing with the court. If you are court-ordered to mediation that fee may be different and will be specified in your Order. I do not need a retainer for my services, it is pay-as-you-go.
DO I NEED A LAWYER? I am not an attorney, and even if I were an attorney I am not acting in that capacity when I am mediating. Many of my clients seek legal advice prior to mediation so that they know their rights and responsibilities about divorce and custody. Some clients hire attorneys prior to mediation, some clients bring attorneys to mediation, some don't. Some clients like to run their Points of Agreement by an attorney prior to signing - that's ok too. It's all up to you. I have an excellent working relationship with many of the attorneys in Frederick. If you have hired an attorney, please tell me so that I can communicate with them as a professional courtesy.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? You're not going to like this answer - but IT DEPENDS. Do you have children? If so, we will need to talk about the kids and craft a Parenting Plan, so that takes longer than people without children or people with adult children. Do you own a home? Multiple homes? Do you have lots of assets? Retirement accounts? Vehicles? Lots of vehicles? Other toys? Special needs? How agreeable (or disagreeable) are you? How much have you already talked about things with your spouse/co-parent? Do you have a good handle on your assets and liabilities or do you need more time to research those issues? I have people who are finished in one session (rarities) and I have clients who need 12+ sessions (also rarities). So, as you can see, IT DEPENDS.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING? Once mediation is scheduled I will send you a confirmation packet that outlines logistic and preparation materials. The more prepared ahead of time that you are the more productive mediation will be (and the fewer sessions you might need). Having copies of titles to any types of property (house, cars) as well as statements for anything with a loan (mortgage, car, etc.), recent tax return, recent pay stub, being familiar with debt, recent retirement and bank statements, and, if you have children, costs of daycare, healthcare and extracurricular activities would all be very helpful. I do not retain any of thee documents but they will be helpful for you and your spouse/co-parent in making the decisions necessary in mediation.