As a certified mediator, Michelle can help parties navigate their family law matters through the mediation process aiming to reach a global settlement for both their parenting and financial issues.

Why mediation?

Litigation is a rigid, public process that can be financially and emotionally costly. In contrast, mediation is a more cost-effective approach that offers flexibility and confidentiality. 

Through mediation, parties can brainstorm creative solutions — which are often not available within the confines of the courtroom — to ultimately achieve better outcomes.

Mediation Intake

If you wish to explore the possibility of using Michelle as a mediator, the parties should contact the office and schedule a consultation. To ensure an effective mediation process, both parties should be engaged from the very beginning. Both parties must attend the initial consultation together to learn about the process, ask questions and meet Michelle at the same time. In the event that the parties wish to proceed with the mediation, independent confirmation must be given by each party.

Case Management Conference

Prior to the first mediation session, Michelle will hold a case management conference with either the parties’ attorneys or the parties themselves (in the case that the attorneys will not be present at the mediation session). During this meeting, the parties will discuss the overall structure of the process, what issues need to be addressed, and what work needs to be completed prior to the first session. Typically, she will schedule one session for parenting issues and one for financial issues. She will also engage any needed experts. Michelle will discuss the individualized needs of both parties to ensure they feel supported and comfortable.

Mediation Sessions

Recognizing that each family has individual needs, Michelle will craft a customized approach to the mediation sessions to best serve the parties. The number and length of the sessions will be discussed in the case management conference. At the first session, Michelle will make an informal opening statement and will engage both parties in a discussion about the global issues. Michelle will steer the process of generating options, reality testing those options, and narrowing the focus on possible solutions.

Virtual Mediation

If it is not possible to meet in person, Michelle offers virtual mediation sessions. Although an in-person session has certain benefits that a virtual session does not, a virtual session may be a viable alternative depending on the complexity of the situation. Both parties must agree to do the mediation virtually and sign a virtual mediation participation agreement which governs the parameters of such session.

Memorandum of Understanding

After the completion of the session(s), if a complete or partial agreement is reached, Michelle will draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which outlines the agreed terms. The parties will need to have their attorneys draft an Allocation Judgment and Parenting Agreement and a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which memorializes the terms of the MOU. The Allocation Judgment and MSA are the legal documents which are formally presented to the judge when the parties appear in court to get divorced.

Attorney Involvement

If you hire Michelle as a mediator, she cannot act as a lawyer for either party and cannot represent either party at any future date. Additionally, Michelle cannot draft the final documents which will be presented to the court and cannot appear in court on behalf of either or both parties. It is strongly recommended that both parties hire their own lawyers to give them legal advice during the mediation process and to draft and review the legal documents which are prepared based on the MOU. It may not be necessary for the lawyers to be physically present at the mediation session. Michelle will discuss with the parties the level of involvement of their attorneys during the process.