Attorney Margaret Hall has been mediating marital disputes for 25 years.
Why leave the most important decision in your life to be made by a judge - a complete stranger? Whether you are getting divorced, establishing time with your children, setting up child support, alimony, dividing property, fighting with a neighbor over boundaries, establishing rights under a family trust or estate, or contesting a will, mediation is the best way to control your own destiny.
Mediation can be used to resolve all kinds of disputes. It is absolutely not necessary to have agreement before meeting a mediator. It only takes two or more feuding parties to agree they want to resolve the problem rather than leaving it to a Judge to decide. Trained mediators can bring disputing parties together. A skilled and experienced mediator can work miracles.
Margaret Cunnane Hall was trained in mediation skills 25 years ago and has keep current with those skills by continuing education and, most importantly, by being a mediator.
Attorney Hall is a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association Family Law Division; the Association for Conflict Resolution; NH Conflict Resolution Association; the Association for Family and Conciliation Court; the Collaborative Alliance of NH; National Children's Advocacy Center; and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, among other professional memberships.
Experience is critical to mediation.
After a successful mediation, disputing parties have greater success in following through on agreements. Neither party feels that they have "lost" or "won" in court. They feel they have accomplished what they hoped they would. In addition, the cost of mediation, even if it takes many sessions, is a fraction of the cost of litigation.
Can a Mediator force me to accept a decision I don't want?
No!! The whole point of mediation is self-determination. No matter how far apart you are mediation allows you to make your own decision. It does not mean you have to agree with what the other party wants in order to be successful. Mediation requires a commitment to the process. Commitment can come from just not wanting someone else (the Judge) to make the decision for you.
Can I still have my own lawyer and use mediation?
Yes. You can have your lawyer at the mediation or you can consult with your lawyer outside of the mediation and between sessions. You can do this as much as you need or want. Take a look at the Collaborative Law page - it describes a process whereby the parties and the lawyers actively engage in mediation and build in incentives to stay with the process.
What is a mediation session like?
Mediation meetings can be set up in many different ways. You and your spouse (in a divorce mediation) can sit at a table with the mediator and take turns giving input and information, wishes and desires (as well as complaints and sometime "gripes" - you are getting divorced after all!!). It generally is a safe place to vent.
A mediator is allowed and usually trained to pick up on non-verbal exchanges and can intervene to make everyone comfortable or at least allow everyone to be "heard".
The mediator is also trained to set up caucuses with each person. A caucus is a "time-out" where each party speaks privately with the mediator. This allows each person to say what they would be uncomfortable or afraid to say in front of the other person. A caucus also is designed to give the mediator an opportunity to ask questions about issues of safety or domestic violence.
Sometimes a mediation session can be set up with each party in separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth carrying proposals. This happens more often when each party has an Attorney.
Finally if there are several mediation sessions the parties can start off in the same room, move to separate rooms when necessary and once making progress toward settlement, move back into the same room.
Is a decision made through mediation legally binding?
Generally the decision made through mediation is not legal binding, but becomes legally binding when signed, filed with the Court and approved by the Court. The mediated agreement becomes a Court Order at that point.
If there are Attorneys present at the mediation and agreement was reached where both parties were able to obtain legal advice during the process, then arguably an agreement reached is binding even before it is typed up, signed and filed with the Court for approval.
What does mediation cost?
Whatever the cost of mediation it is going to be less than litigation where the parties and their attorneys are waging an ongoing war.
Mediators generally work at an hourly rate, with the actual final cost dependent on the complexity of the mediation, how many meetings are required, how much background work is needed, and so on.
For more information on how mediation can help you,
call 603 673-8323 or send an email to [email protected].