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Family Mediation (12)

What does a Family Mediator do?

Family mediators assist separating couples, or moms and dads (if there are children), in negotiations for a Separation Agreement.

Mediators practice in different ways but with a common goal – to support families going through separation or divorce.  Stephen Rosenfield practices family mediation by helping couples resolve disputes, helping moms and dads focus on the needs of their children, while paying attention to the financial budgets for each person.

Stephen Rosenfield services include

  • Family Mediation
  • Family Financial Budgeting
  • Financial Mediation
  • Family Crisis Intervention
  • Helping High Conflict Families whose family members have A.D.H.D., learning disabilities, depression or alienation issues, etc.

The conclusion of mediation results in a draft agreement called a Memorandum of Understanding (which becomes your Separation Agreement), Financial Budgets and the required Financial Disclosure Forms.  Individuals experiencing extreme conflict may require an agreement specifically listing each party’s responsibilities.

All Memorandums of Understanding are forwarded to each client’s lawyer for legal advice and final approval prior to the execution of the agreement.

Why should I mediate and not litigate?

Family mediation can help separated parents raise healthy, well-adjusted children.  Mediation is a process whereby the mediator, who is a neutral third party, helps couples resolve parenting and financial issues voluntarily.  Mediation will help facilitate communication and reduce anger, provide parenting or financial guidance and greatly offset power imbalances or controlling behaviour.  The mediator’s role is to help couples come to their own fair decisions while creating sustainable agreement.

Who should participate in Family Mediation?

Successful mediation participants initiate mediation because they to be treated fairly, but need assistance.  Most separated couples need to improve their communication skills.  One, or both parties, may be hurt or angry.  Their love is gone and their former spouse is now an adversary.  It happens quickly, as fear or frustration takes over.  Stephen Rosenfield understands good communication requires good cooperation.  Mediation is not meant to be adversarial but should support appropriate forms of communication in order to resolve problems.

No one gets everything they want in mediation.  Mediation is meant to be fair for both parties; it is voluntary and must make sense.  It is our job to get you talking, appropriately.  If we cannot, individual sessions can be scheduled.  Start mediation and give yourself an opportunity to move your life forward in a positive way.

When should I commence mediation?

Family mediation can begin at any time.  Sometimes couples want to resolve issues before telling their children they are separating.  They want their children to hear what has jointly been decided. Other times, parents need considerable assistance.  High-conflict families require immediate help to resolve even minor issues and sometimes, lawyers require very specific help to reduce the stress between couples.  Every couple is different.  Start mediation when both parties want to be treated fairly.  It is important to remember the role of a mediator is to help both parties resolve issues.  We don’t take sides.

What do we talk about during mediation?

During my many years of practice, I have come to expect the unexpected.

Most mediations have common themes, but no two couples are the same.  Therefore, all issues pertaining to the family can be addressed and mediated.  The usual issues are

  • children
  • parenting responsibility
  • time spent between each parent and the children
  • living arrangements
  • holiday schedules
  • decision making regarding health care
  • education, religion
  • extracurricular activities
  • child support
  • spousal support
  • medical expenses
  • life insurance, cars
  • division of personal property
  • pensions
  • matrimonial home (for some couples)
  • taxes
  • financial separation and equalizing assets or liabilities

These are the most common family issues to discuss and resolve.

What kind of mediation do you practice?

For the most part, Rosenfield Mediation uses a “closed mediation” process, which is confidential, nurturing and creates an environment conducive to improved problem solving.  Anything said during mediation is private, unless both parties agree otherwise.

Why choose Rosenfield Mediation?

Stephen Rosenfield believes that a family mediator should help couples resolve both parenting issues and financial issues.  For example, to mediate regarding children’s extracurricular activities while not being able to resolve who will pay for those activities serves no purpose.

Stephen Rosenfield is able to provide full and comprehensive draft Memorandums of Understanding, which include a parenting plan, child support, spousal support payments or waivers, and other financial considerations.

Separation is extremely stressful for all family members. Stephen helps parents to improve their communication, focus on the needs of their children, while providing a nurturing approach to resolve issues.  Mediation is hard work.  Tough choices need to be made.  New skills are learned.  Bad habits are broken.  In the end, you will have a workable agreement that you can both live with, because you participated in its creation.  THAT’S THE KEY INGREDIENT!

How long are the sessions and how much time does mediation take?

Every couple has different issues to resolve.  Some issues are simple while others are quite complicated.  If your situation is typical, 4-6 sessions, of 1.5-3 hours each, are required.  In addition, considerable time is spent on the phone, emailing, and drafting the agreement, budgets and financial forms.

What is a Separation Agreement?

Most people who separate have never seen a Separation Agreement.  A Separation Agreement is a contract that provides a legal understanding between both parties regarding issues pertaining to

  • future parenting and decision-making
  • financial responsibilities
  • debt repayment
  • medical expenses
  • life insurance
  • dividing personal property
  • decisions regarding the matrimonial home
  • equalizing the couple’s assets
  • and more.

Separation Agreements can be simple or complex based upon the needs of the couple.  An appropriate agreement deals with all issues to be resolved until the children complete their education.

Raising children is not easy.  There are parenting issues and legal issues to resolve.  Both are important.  Resolving one without the other will not work.

What if a settlement can’t be reached?

In our experience, 80% of couples reach fair agreements.  20% will continue to fight until both parties are ready to reach agreement or there is a court order.  If the circumstances are too contentious, most mediators will be able to let the couple know within 1-2 sessions.  There is no magic formula for reaching a fair and workable agreement.  If the agreement is “fair and workable”, it will continue until your children are much older.

Do I need a lawyer if I mediate?

The answer is yes.

Stephen Rosenfield strongly recommends that each party retain legal counsel for Independent Legal Advice, (I.L.A.), to review the draft agreement and financial forms.  Separation is often the most costly expense you will incur during your lifetime.  Stephen Rosenfield can refer you to family law lawyers to review your mediated agreement.  Be smart.  Before signing your agreement always get Independent Legal Advice.  Remember, each party must have their own lawyer.

Do mediators go to court?

Most family mediators don’t believe their role is for court-related purposes.  We do not represent you in court, nor do we provide you with legal advice.  Our role is to offer a safe and secure environment to help you make good decisions for you and your family.

Mediation costs substantially less than going to court, and the benefits are not only financial but also emotional.  Mediation helps families look forward to a future while not dwelling on the past.

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