About Washington State Mediation – King/Snohomish County
All three counties in Washington State that I work in (King, Pierce, and Snohomish County) require mediation before you can go to trial in your family law case. If you’re looking for a mediator, at a reasonable price, consider using my services!
Mediation is a confidential, no-fault process, typically in my office, where I work with both sides to resolve divorce and family law problems. This may be anything as minor as a parenting plan dispute, to something as major as the entire divorce.
It is a no fault, non binding exercise. If it works, you both leave with either a binding agreement (called a CR 2A Agreement, in legal terms), or an actual order that you can take to court and get signed. If it doesn’t work, there are no consequences. The court never knows what the offers were; what each party claimed or argued; all the court knows is that you tried mediation and it didn’t work.
Virtually every Parenting Plan requires mediation to try to resolve disputes before going to court. All counties require mediation before you go to trial. Mediation – especially if it is done over the phone – is far cheaper than filing a motion, and works a lot of the time. If it doesn’t work, then at least you know more about the issues, and the facts, and you are better prepared if you do go to court.
Why me as a mediator? I am an experienced family law attorney. That means I have good sense of where your issue stands legally; and what the likely outcome is if you take it to court. That also means I used that experience to tell both sides where they are likely to end up.
There are several styles of mediation. I am a pretty directive mediator: I tend to be evaluative and problem –solving. You come to me, as a mediator, because there is a problem that needs to be solved. You know the facts in the case; but I have a better idea of the law and what a court might do. The end result is that you have a pretty good chance of getting the problem solved, in a way that you can both live with, that’s fair to both sides, and in a reasonable amount of time.
As a mediator, I am not anyone’s attorney. I can’t represent either side in court. And that’s true for all mediators.
What Makes For Successful Family Law Mediation?
There is no guarantee mediation works. That’s why you can always go to court, after all. But there are some things that increase the chances of mediation being successful:
- Accurate Facts. If we are mediating a divorce, bring paystubs; bank statements; retirement plan statements, etc. Mediation works best on facts, not speculation or guesses.
- Don’t Hide Assets. If it’s a divorce, there are no secrets. Both sides have to disclose fully all relevant facts.
- Be Prepared To Bend. There is one truth: nobody wins everything in court. In mediation, to some degree, you control the outcome. But it has to be an outcome that both sides can live with.
- The Mediator Is Not On Your Side. If I’m mediating, I am going to tell the truth to both sides. But I am not on either side; I can’t do that and mediate the case.
What to Expect During Mediation
Here’s how the process works:
- You contact me to set up a date and time, and I will get a quick synopsis of what the problem is.
- I will send out a form to both sides, laying out the fee, the rules, and what information I need to have to make the process work.
- We set up the date and time. Usually we block out 1-2 hours for a simple problem; and 4-8 hours for a full divorce mediation.
- Both sides fill out the forms. As a mediator, all communications before our session – other than simple coordination – are via email with copies to both sides, so no one feels the other side has an advantage of some kind.
- I get paid. Unless you agree otherwise, each side pays half; and the fees are due upfront. I take credit cards and checks. I do not take payments.
- Both sides send back the information I need to work with. This typically is a short statement from each of you about what the issues are and what the facts are; and a copy of any documents we need to have.
- I take anywhere from a half hour to an hour or so beforehand to figure out the actual issues.
- We meet at the office (or if I am doing it with attorneys, possibly at one of their offices.)
- We do mediation. I never mediate with both sides in the same room; I go back and forth between the rooms, until we either get to an agreement, or we decide it just is not going to work.
- If it works, I draft a CR2A Agreement, or an order, and both sides sign it. That is a binding agreement.
- And that’s it!