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Mediation Services

 

"Saving Dollars, Making Sense"

Anju D. Jessani, MBA, APM®

Accredited Professional Mediator

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Legal Representation for Your Mediation

 

 

 "A mediator should make the Parties aware of the importance of consulting other professionals to help them make informed choices."  NJAPM Standards of Conduct for Mediators

We look forward to working with your attorney on your case.  While the choice of attorney is your decision, your case will usually go more smoothly if you retain an attorney who is supportive of mediation

Being supportive of mediation includes not duplicating the efforts of the mediation process,  advising you between mediation sessions, having a willingness to attend joint mediation sessions if necessary, providing you with a realistic view of your case, and having a focus toward a fair settlement versus a win-lose scenario

We maintain a list of mediation-friendly attorneys; there are never any referral fees or financial benefits to us from a referral.  Please feel free to email us for a copy of that list to ajessani@dwdmediation.org

You might find our article, Choosing a Matrimonial Attorney - A Mediator's Perspective, helpful.  Here are some quotes: "It is recommended that you interview at least three law firms before choosing an attorney... Selecting the wrong lawyer can cost you untold aggravation and expense.  You are paying the bills and you will have to live the results...  So be a smart consumer and do your due diligence before you make this important decision"

Be wary of guidance from the Greek chorus advising you to retain the most aggressive SOB... if you need convincing, read Lee Borden's Open Letter from a (Gladiator) Divorce Attorney

If you think you have hired an attorney who believes the best way to protect you is to go to war, here are some tips on from Cathy Meyer from her article How to Handle an Adversarial Divorce Lawyer

 

Howard Yahm's addresses the issue of the adversarial legal process and "divorced induced regression" in his article Divorce Induced Emotions and the Healing Paradigm

Please also visit our Links & Resources page for links to other divorce sites that provide information about attorney choice

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mediation Including Fees and Legal Representation

 

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a court-approved process in which an impartial trained person, called a mediator, encourages and facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties.  It is an informal, client-centered, non-adversarial process, with the objective of helping parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. 90% of clients who voluntarily choose mediation are able to come to an agreement. Mediation clients self-select to succeed. Why not you?

What is the Role of the Mediator?

A mediator is a neutral third party trained to help facilitate a resolution to a dispute.  The role of the mediator is to help clients explore options and their consequences.   The mediator brings knowledge and experience that can provide a context for decision making. The mediator does not make decisions for, or impose decisions on clients.

What is the Role of the Attorney in Mediation?

The role of the attorney is to advise their client and also prepare their legal documents.  In some cases, clients retain representation during or after the mediation, while in other cases, clients come to mediation following retaining an attorney.  In most cases,  clients meet with the mediator, but confer with their attorneys between sessions or following the mediation.  However, there are cases where the attorneys play a more active role.  Each case is different.  You can work with the mediator and your attorney to decide which model of mediation makes sense for your case. 

Why Shouldn't the Mediator Also Serve as Attorney?

In New Jersey and New York, an attorney can only represent one party to a dispute.  Even if your mediator is an attorney, if he/she mediates your dispute and then represents one of you (since he/she cannot represent both parties), there would be a conflict of interest about who is his/her client.  In this situation, you would also never get the benefit of a second set of eyes to review your agreement for accuracy.  And, if you had to return to mediation at a later date, there would always be a question of the mediator's neutrality after he/she has represented one of you in court proceedings. 

Why Shouldn't I litigate?

Nearly all cases (97+%) settle sooner or later without going to trial.  And, for both family/divorce and business/civil disputes in New Jersey, in all likelihood, the court will order you to attend private mediation at some point in your case.  You can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars of legal costs by starting the mediation process early.  Does it really make sense to invest large sums in a litigation process that will eventually lead to a similar resolution, but with financial and emotional costs that may never be recovered?

What are Some Advantages of Mediation?

 

Mediation helps promote cooperation and self-determination - results that will continue to reap benefits well past the period of controversy.  The process helps eliminate the win-lose atmosphere that is part of many disputes.  Other advantages of mediation over litigation include:

◊ Mediation is generally faster and less costly

◊ Mediation is voluntary, private and confidential

◊ Mediation facilitates creative and realistic solutions

◊ Mediation allows parties to control their agreements

◊ Mediation eliminates a win-lose atmosphere and result

◊ Mediation provides a forum for addressing future disputes

◊ Mediation fosters communication and helps mend relationships

What if I Am Already Involved in a Litigation?

It is never too late to move from the litigation process to mediation - to use mediation to address those remaining issues that would benefit from a focus on interests not positions. It is never too late to change the tenor of your dispute resolution process to one that treats the other party with respect and dignity.  There is no benefit to throwing good money after bad.  If the litigation process is not working for you, please consider coming in with your former partner for a free consultation.

What Fees/Costs Can I Anticipate from Mediation with Your Practice?

Our affordable billing rate of $320 an hour is below the industry average and reflects our active efforts to manage our overhead costs, and our commitment to providing cost-effective services.  You can compare billing rates for mediators on the Family Court Roster of Economic Mediators by clicking these two links: Hudson Roster and Hunterdon Roster (our listings are on the last page of each roster).  Because we know what we are doing and because of our structured but flexible approach - with almost all chargeable hours except the drafting of the Memorandum of Understanding from session time, we will facilitate your case with the minimum number of billable hours.  We aim for total transparency and invite your questions on fees/costs as well as other concerns you may have.

Please see our Divorce Mediation page for more details on this process and deliverables.  The cost of your mediation will depend on the number of hours worked on your case; this in turns will depend on a number of factors including the complexity of your case, the timely production of your documents, the level of conflict, and your willingness to come to an agreement.  We have handled divorce cases with assets from $0 to $12 million, and annual earnings from minimum wage to $5 million.  In mediation, there are no retainer fees, and you pay for each session on a pay as you go basis, allowing you to maintain control of the expenses of your case. 

What Savings Can I Anticipate from Mediation?

The total cost of mediation combined with lawyers' fees is often less than one-third the cost of a divorce settlement negotiated by counsel.   For middle-class W-2 employees with children, total mediation fees are usually in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.  This includes four to five 90-minute sessions, preparation of child support guidelines and a parenting plan, a description of the division of your division of assets and liabilities, and the time to write your Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  If you don't have children, you might be able to complete the mediation process in three sessions; if you have a complex case, you might need more than five sessions.  We have found that attorneys charge lower retainer fees for mediated divorce cases, with retainer fees typically in the $1,500 to $3,000 range for W-2 type cases.  Your fees with your attorney are independent of your mediation fees, are set by the attorney, and are paid directly to the attorney you choose.  We can provide your MOU to your attorney in Word or text format so that they can use the information to prepare your Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) efficiently, but in the format they prefer. 

Comparative Financial Statistics

 

The Boston Law Collaborative's analysis of 199 divorce cases found that a mediated divorce, including legal fees, had a median cost of $6,600, followed by $19,723 for a collaborative divorce, $26,830 for a divorce settlement negotiated by

counsel, and $77,746 for a litigated divorce.  American Bar Association Journal, December 20, 2007

Average cost of a traditional divorce, including counsel and court fees - $20,000.  Money Magazine, September 2001

Average cost of a mediated divorce, including mediation, counsel and court fees - one-third the cost of a traditional divorce.  Anju D. Jessani

Average cost of a modern day wedding - $20,000.  Emily Post Institute, January 2001

Average annual household income - $53,100. (Our Note: That is about $37,170, after Social Security and other taxes).  Kiplinger Magazine, January 2001

 
Quotes About Conflict and Mediation

 

"People who design solutions to their own conflicts are more satisfied with the outcome, and have a stronger commitment to maintaining their agreements... Mediation teaches them new ways to deal with future conflict and new ways to communicate."   Report of the Supreme Judicial Court/Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution.

 

"A study of 120 mediated cases and 120 litigated cased found that parents who mediated were more pleased with and more likely to follow their agreements than parents who went to court."  Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoennes, Denver Custody Mediation Project

 

We all pay an incalculable price for conflict.  We pay a financial price... a physical price... and an emotional price...  In addition to these, we pay an unseen spiritual price.  How much of your "one wild and precious life" are you prepared to waste on unresolved conflict."  Kenneth Cloke, The Crossroads of Conflict

 

 Negotiations can take place when the parties to a dispute recognize they have a dispute, agree on the need to resolve it, and actively engage in a process designed to settle the dispute."  John Haynes, Family & Divorce Mediation

 

"The laws of physics hold in conflict resolution - for every action, expect an equal an opposite reaction. Conflicts can escalate out of control by one misstep  Take high road and focus on the issues rather than your anger."  Anju D. Jessani