“Litigation encourages fighting and a loss of control over the outcome. Mediation supports resolution and provides a structure that helps the parties control the outcome.”
– Rodney Johnson
Mediation is ideal for couples who can meet together to reach an amicable resolution of their issues. Studies have shown that the compliance rate of divorce agreements is higher when couples create their own agreement through mediation.
In mediation, the mediator does not represent either party. Instead, the mediator’s role is to be a neutral third party who can help the couple resolve their differences. Successful mediation requires a highly skilled mediator and a commitment from each member of the couple to work through all of the issues of their unique situation.
Rodney recognizes that divorce is a highly emotional event. He has found that if he can keep both individuals at the table talking about solutions rather than arguing positions, they will come up with a resolution that they both feel good about.
How to choose a mediator
He suggests that they ask friends and associates that have been through a mediation process for names of mediators that they would recommend. Rodney suggests that the parties interview two to three mediators. Both parties should agree on who the mediator will be. It is important to retain a mediator that has experience in dealing with all of the various issues that might arise. If you were to chose a surgeon to perform open heart surgery, you would want to chose a surgeon who has years of experience doing open heart surgery.
Steps of Mediation
- Identify the issues the couple has to resolve.
- Gather all factual information so that, in layman’s terms, all the cards are on the table.
- Rodney explains the law in California as it relates to those issues.
- Rodney helps the couple come to their own resolution of those issues.
Once an agreement is reached, Rodney prepares a Marital Settlement Agreement, which contains all of the negotiated terms and conditions. After both parties sign the agreement, Rodney files it with the court. The couple never sets foot in the courthouse.
How long the mediation process takes
This is the question that most couples ask when they come in for the initial consultation. His answer is that it all depends on the parties. If the parties are able to set aside the emotional issues and discuss resolutions in a somewhat business-like manner, then the process will be very efficient. It is up to the parties to determine the efficiency of the process.
When children are involved
Rodney advises couples that their children are their most important asset and to make sure that they consider their children’s best interests (not their own) in resolving a particular issue. In resolving time share issues, he will advise that the quality of the time that each parent spends with the children is more important than the quantity of the time. He encourages parties to co-parent rather than to parallel parent their children. When appropriate, He will refer the parties to a child specialist to help them resolve particular issues.
Dealing with emotions
Rodney recognizes that the divorce process is as emotional as it is legal. He has had the benefit of having worked with an experienced therapist in his own life and he is comfortable with emotions. The reason he asks the parties for their fears, interests and concerns is that these are the real issues; and if the parties can focus on these in coming to an agreement, they will come to an agreement that addresses their fears, interests and concerns.
How to deal with an impasse.
Rodney has several ways of dealing with an impasse. He may ask the parties for their permission to meet separately with each party to help him determine the underlying cause for the impasse. He sometimes will suggest ways other couples have resolved similar impasses. On occasion, he will use his experience as a Judge Pro Tem and be more directive in suggesting ways they could use to resolve the impasse as if they were in a settlement conference.
Rodney has experience in working with therapists in a co-mediation setting.
If you and your spouse/partner would like to discuss your situation, Rodney N. Johnson offers an in-person, free one-half hour consultation. When it is appropriate, he can discuss a flat fee.
Please contact the Law & Mediation Offices of Rodney N. Johnson.