Seeking Family Law or Divorce Mediation? Napa County Firm Can Help.
When it comes to divorce mediation, Napa-based Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office offers clients skilled assistance.
If you can avoid the courtroom, we believe you and your family will be much better off today and for years to come.
One of the ways you can avoid the courtroom is through use of a skilled mediation trained family court lawyer.
Napa area divorce and family law mediator Janice Downey is experienced in helping families achieve outcomes that save clients money and achieve resolution more quickly.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which you and your partner, spouse, or other parent meet with a neutral third-party called a mediator. Mediation may be used to solve one issue or the entire divorce. A mediator does not represent or advocate for either of you. The mediator does not provide legal advice to either of you.
Instead, the mediator-attorney provides legal information. Mediation is typically based on a number of sessions lasting one to three hours each. The sequential sessions prepares you to work toward agreement(s) over time rather than pressuring you to enter a global agreement by the end of a single session.
Mediation Trained Family Court Lawyer: Napa Divorce and Family Law Mediator’s Role
- Our mediator assists you and your partner, spouse, or other parent in identifying the areas of dispute(s);
- Our mediator assists you and your partner, spouse, or other parent in feeling heard;
- Our mediator creates a safe atmosphere for you and your partner, spouse, or other parent;
- Our mediator assists in managing emotions of you and your partner, spouse, or other parent;
- Our mediator assists in balancing the power between you and your partner, spouse, or other parent;
- Our mediator helps you and your partner, spouse, or other parent develop options and creative alternatives to resolve the dispute(s);
- Our mediator assists you and your partner, spouse, or other parent to break through “roadblocks” to making agreements;
- Our mediator applies appropriate pressure when necessary to reach agreements and discusses implementation;
- Our mediator assists in communication and negotiation between you and your partner, spouse, or other parent to reach a consensual settlement;
- Our mediator and staff at Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office can prepare certain legal documents, if you both request such.
You and your partner, spouse, or other parent cannot be compelled to accept a specific decision in mediation. Participating in mediation does not preclude you and your partner, spouse, or other parent’s ability to obtain a Court hearing. You and/or your partner, spouse, or other parent may hire your own attorneys, if you wish.
These attorneys may attend mediation sessions so long as both of you and our mediator agree beforehand.
Some people in Napa mediation hire a consulting attorney to assist similar to a coach in the divorce process. When using the mediation services of a mediation-trained family court lawyer, Napa County clients are encouraged to review any agreements made in mediation with their own attorney before finalizing them.
Benefits of Mediation:
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent are in control of the mediation process;
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent are able to select your mediator (and may fire the mediator any time);
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent spend less money in the mediation process;
- The mediation is kept private;
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent have less conflict (which benefits your children);
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent gain more effective parenting and communication methods;
- The mediation process is more expedient than traditional divorce methods;
- The agreements are generated by you and your partner, spouse, or other parent yourselves;
- You and your partner, spouse, or other parent’s lives are improved!
Mediation Versus Napa County Court Litigation:
Attorneys, courts, and California law control the litigation process. You and your partner, spouse, or other parent are allowed little, if any, input in when, where, or how court proceedings will be held.
In mediation, you and your partner, spouse, or other parent can schedule sessions of your choice and can come up with your own creative agreements despite what state law may dictate.
You and your partner, spouse, or other parent have no choice in your Judge. The Judge may be new to family law. The Judge may have their own preconceived notions (positive or negative) about you and/or your case.
It is quite difficult to remove a Judge from your case. In mediation, if one of you is dissatisfied with the mediator, you can immediately sever the relationship with the mediator.
In litigation, the Judge is the decision maker for you and your partner, spouse, or other parent and your family which may impact you for years. This Judge’s values and beliefs may differ substantially from yours. The Judge, who does not know you or your family, is making important decisions regarding you and your family on very narrow (and possibly twisted) facts with little time to evaluate all of the circumstances.
The Judge may only make decisions within the guidelines of the California Family Law Code. In mediation, you and your partner, spouse, or other parent are free to make agreements based on your personal values, beliefs, and needs.
You are not confined to making agreements based on state law. With you and your partner, spouse, or other parent crafting your own agreements, you are both much more likely to abide by your agreements than to orders handed down by a stranger.
Without a Mediation Trained Family Court Lawyer, Napa County Clients Can Expect…
Litigation can be costly! Assuming both of you have an attorney, you are paying for all communications from you to you attorney, then your attorney back to you, then your attorney to your partner, spouse, or other parent’s attorney (and so on). Then your partner, spouse, or other parent is paying for the same lengthy course of communicating. Mediation can eliminate this uneconomical “middle-man” process of communication.
Also, a lot of time is spent by you and your partner, spouse, or other parent and your lawyers readying for court. This includes the process of “Discovery,” where you compel your partner, spouse, or other parent to produce certain information. This can be very pricey, especially if one of you is not cooperative or if depositions are necessary.
Then, time in court–whether actually litigating or simply waiting hours for a hearing to begin is billed hourly by each lawyer. Meanwhile, you and your partner, spouse, or other parent are likely losing wages due to time away from work. Also, litigation expenses can easily skyrocket if one or both of your lawyers are not settlement-friendly. Some lawyers are far from settlement-friendly!
Court hearings are ordinarily available for public viewing. There are usually many other people waiting in the courtroom for their proceeding while your hearing is in progress. Agreements and documents made in litigation are usually filed with the court and are public record.
Your neighbors, church, friends, co-workers, potential employers, and even your kids can access documents of the most sensitive nature in your court file for years. In mediation, all communications are kept confidential (with limited exceptions) unless both of you consent to disclosure. Mediation generated agreements may be made confidential and exempt from public record should both of you desire.
In litigation, you and your partner, spouse, or other parent and your lawyers usually have a “win-lose” attitude which gives rise to competition and conflict among the parties. Mediation seeks to alleviate this by giving the you both tools to allow better communication and negotiation skills in order to make the best agreements yourselves. The reduced conflict and enhanced communication between you benefits you and your family for years into the future.
Litigation can last years! This is due to several causes from overcrowded court calendars, uncooperative parties, or inflexible attorneys. To obtain a hearing, you first must file documents with the court (which takes time and usually filing fees). Then, you must give your partner, spouse, or other parent sufficient legal notice before the hearing can be held (which takes more time).
Often, hearings are continued to another date for multiple reasons (taking more time). Mediation may commence immediately without relying on the next available date on the court’s busy calendar. Napa mediation may be scheduled as frequently as you and your partner, spouse, or other parent wish until agreements are made.
Mediation May be Right for You and/or Your Partner, Spouse, or Other Parent If:
- Neither of you are still grieving and/or hoping to reconcile;
- Neither of you are hiding assets;
- You both can cooperate in providing access to documentation;
- There is little chance that either of you will attempt to take advantage of the other;
- You both have no history of abuse, violence, high conflict, or litigation;
- You both are able to comprehend math, budgets, financial, and parenting issues;
- You both have a history of successful problem solving and cooperation;
- You both are able and amenable to communicate with each other;
- You both have high motive to reach a settlement;
- You are willing to make a small investment to lessen the risk of contested litigation;
- If either of you retained lawyers, they are supportive of mediation.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation / Napa County Family Law Mediation Cost?
There are many factors that can affect the cost of mediation. These factors include the complexity of the financial and legal issues, as well as the emotional state and negotiation chemistry of you and your partner, spouse, or other parent.
Additional time outside of mediation is necessary for the mediator to draft summary letters, for phone/email/written correspondence with both of you, and for legal document preparation (if desired). We are happy to provide you with our Napa mediator-attorney and paralegals’ current hourly rate by phone, email, or by our contact form CLICK HERE.
At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we feel so passionately about the benefit to you and your family in mediation versus traditional litigation, we generally require a low retainer of no more than $1,000. We offer a low retainer in order to encourage you to mediate in Napa rather than litigate.
This mediation retainer is substantially less than we require for a non-mediated case (and is much lower than most other local attorney-mediators’ retainers). Our Napa County mediator, Janice Downey, will discuss this in more detail during a free initial consultation with both of you and she will provide fee information in writing if you wish to retain us.
Who Pays for the Napa Mediator?
In Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office’s mediation fee agreement, you must specify how you want to allocate the fees and costs of the mediation. Some people agree to divide the fees and costs equally.
Others agree that only one will pay the fees and costs. Some agree to charge all fees and costs on one credit card and then determine responsibility for that credit card balance through the mediation negotiation process. Some people agree to divide the fees and costs according to their respective incomes (i.e. one pays 70%, the other pays 30%). In the spirit of mediation, it’s up to both of you to decide!
Still Undecided About Mediation?
Go to the Napa County family law courthouse and witness the traditional litigation system first-hand. Observe all of the lawyers and litigants in the halls before court. Listen to and feel the emotion, fervor, and stress of these people at the courthouse. Witness the hearings. Notice the adversarial nature of the communications by the attorneys and the parties.
Take note of the minimal time the Judge has to hear each case on their busy schedule. See what little opportunity the parties have to talk with the Judge or even with one another. Once you observe this first-hand, we are confident that you will understand and appreciate the benefits and value that Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office can offer you through our Napa divorce mediation services.
Are You Ready to Mediate?
At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we ask that both of you agree in advance to meet together either in person, by phone, or via video-conference with our Napa mediator-attorney before either of you contact our office to schedule the initial consultation.
To initiate this with your partner, spouse, or other parent, we suggest that you share this web page with your other party (simply click on the “share this page with someone” icon at the bottom of the page…) Kindly ask them to review it and get back to you to let you know if they are willing to schedule a free half-hour initial consultation with you.
Once you reach a consensus to schedule a consultation, please contact us CLICK HERE. Of course, if your partner, spouse, or other parent is not open to divorce mediation, Napa County-based attorneys in our firm can assist you with any of our many other Napa family law services. That holds true as long as we have not consulted with your partner, spouse, or other parent.
If you cannot call together to schedule the initial consultation, you should determine who will contact our office to schedule it. Please figure out the best days and time frames for scheduling for each of you (and any dates in the near future when either is unavailable) before you contact us.
Please be prepared to provide us with your partner, spouse, or other parent’s contact information including their e-mail address, if they have one. We will communicate with them to give them the appointment information once it is made. Please let us know whether they prefer us to contact them by phone or by e-mail.
At the free initial mediation consultation, you will meet together with our Napa mediator-attorney, Janice Downey, to review the mediation process and address any general questions or concerns about the process.
If during this consultation you decide to retain Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we will provide a fee agreement for both of you to review, sign, and take care of the monetary arrangements and schedule your first mediation session.
Or, if you both decide to retain us after the initial consultation, you can contact us CLICK HERE. We are happy to provide the fee agreement to you by e-mail or mail.
If you think you can benefit from family law or divorce mediation, Napa County-based Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office serves clients in Napa, American Canyon, Calistoga, Pope Valley, St. Helena, and surrounding communities.
Please check out our client reviews to see for yourself what our clients have to say about us. It’s our commitment to providing low cost yet quality legal services in a friendly manner that sets us apart from the pack!
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