Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teen Parents - Listen Up

Mediation is for adults AND teens. If you are a parent, regardless of your age, mediation is a cost-effective, beneficial, and less hostile process for determining a Parenting Plan for your child. It is a concerning statistic, however, teen pregnancy accounts for 1 out of every 10 births and 39% of every 1,000 births.(  Unmarried teens are not immune from the legal consequences of child-rearing.  Any MTV-watching teen has seen episodes of Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant where teen parents have attended family mediation to work out their Parenting Plans for time-sharing schedules and child support. It is important to encourage teens to seek out a family mediator as opposed to going before a judge. Teens should learn to cooperate without hostility early on regarding the interests of their child. Mediation will set the stage for a positive relationship for the teen parents as their child grows up.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's NOT All or Nothing

A typical mediation misconception is that all the family issues have to be settled at one time.  This is false.  Although one mediation session can resolve all the issues, this is usually not the case. When dependent children are involved, one mediation may solely consist of determining child support and creating a timesharing plan. A follow up session would be used to resolve all the other remaining family issues, such as division of marital assets/debts. If you are considering family mediation but you are not ready to resolve all the issues at one time, don't worry. The pace of the mediation process is dictated by the parties. If you are motivated to settle, then perhaps one session is enough.  However, if you are still hesitant, remember that the process can be spread out over more than one session.  Mediation puts the power in your hands!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best Interest of the Child

As Summer Break comes to a close, there's no better time to remind timesharing families what is most important. Families who have chosen to separate and share time with their child/children are no doubt fighting to have those last few remaining days before the school year begins again. However, the all-encompassing family law motto remains - The Best Interest of the Child.  This time of year should not be a battle between parents themselves or with their children. Parents should place the best interests of their child/children at the forefront.  Going back to school can be a overwhelming and anxious experience for a child, especially one who is just entering elementary school. Put your child/children first and ask "how can we make this transition from summer to school a smooth one." It is crucial to speak to the other parent and collectively decide which environment will help the child/children the most. Obviously, if a written agreement is in place and already addresses this issue, then disregard my instructions.  But never forget that your child/children come first - Always!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Speak the Truth

The Sun Sentinel of Broward County agrees with me. Family mediation is the wave of the future. An article published on May 4, 2011 clearly explains how the recession has forced many divorcing couples to find alternatives to the traditional lawyer-driven divorce. Many couples are working with family mediators prior to filing any divorce papers in an effort to save money.  Specifically, the articles addresses simplified divorces - divorce with no dependent children, no issues of alimony, and generally fewer assets.  Between 2005 and 2009, the number of simplified divorces has "almost doubled in Palm Beach County and jumped 20 percent in Broward County."  Divorcing couples in South Florida are willing to put their emotional issues aside and work together to save money, time, and headaches. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I sell TIME

What is it that I'm really selling as a pro se, pre-suit mediator? The answer - Time.  Uhh, time? I don't get it. Let me explain...briefly. Once you decide to divorce/separate, you can immediately come to a family mediator, who will guide you in reaching a settlement agreement regarding your children and/or property.  A settlement can be reached in one day. Your next step is to the courthouse, where you can file your divorce papers and settlement agreement. The final step is a hearing before a judge where your settlement agreement will be finalized.  This three step process can be accomplished in a couple of months.  The traditional divorce/separation process with attorneys can take many months even years for an agreement to be reached. That process is plagued with scheduling, rescheduling, and more rescheduling. Trying to find acceptable dates and balance schedules for the parties and their attorneys is a circus act.  Time is invaluable and can never be returned to you. Save yourself the hassle and hire a mediator FIRST.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Custody and Visitation - A Thing of The Past

“You’ll have to fight me for custody.” If you watch a family drama on TV, you’re bound to hear this phrase between arguing parents. However, the Florida Legislature doesn’t like that term anymore and rarely awards sole custody and unilateral decision making to one parent.  A Parenting Plan is the new wave in child custody and visitation laws. Parenting Plans spell out the responsibilities of each parent as they relate to their children’s overall upbringing, including health, education, religion, and social activities. Each parent now has a “shared responsibility” in the general welfare of their children.  In the spirit of collaboration, the legislature has also replaced “visitation” with “time-sharing.” Parents don’t visit their children anymore; children share their time between both parents. The time-sharing schedule is laid out in the Parenting Plan.  The Florida Legislature no longer wants to punish either parent but equalize their responsibilities in raising their children. In family mediation parents put their differences aside and create a plan where both parents have a say in their children's lives.  Family TV dramas are bound to catch up with the new law.  TV's future tag line - “Well, we’ll work this out in our Parenting Plan.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Family Mediation - The Comeback Kid

Mediation in the family law system is nothing new.  It has always been a part of the divorce process and a tool for settling disputes such as child visitation schedules. But ask your neighbor if she knows what family mediation is - chances are, she doesn’t. However, mediation is becoming the popular kid in school once again.  In our down economy, saving money is a constant thought on people’s minds. When experiencing a family problem in need of legal attention, people don’t have the time or desire to fight out their family battles in court, let alone have the money to hire an attorney. Fortunately, a better alternative exists, which will save your family time, hassles, headaches, and a ton of money. 

That alternative is pro se, pre-suit mediation. “Pro se” means on your own, no attorney. “Pre-suit” means before you walk on the courthouse steps. Why bother spending thousands of dollars on an attorney, wasting months on end in court, and putting the fate of your family into the hands of a complete stranger if you don’t have to? Pro se, pre-suit family mediation is the money saving answer.  Saving your money is great, but the part that’s even better is playing the judge and deciding how your family will be divided. You wouldn’t let a judge decide who, when, and where you should marry, so why would you let a judge decide how much time you can spend with your children or who should get your grandmother’s antique tea set.  These decisions should be yours alone.

You can make these important decisions if you work with a mediator; and I suggest one who has been certified by the Florida Supreme Court.  A mediator will help guide you and your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend in deciding what is best for your family.  If both parties join forces and work together, mediation could last a couple of hours and cost a few hundred dollars at most.  Now compare that with a lengthy, drawn-out court battle, which could cost upwards of thousands of dollars. Sounds like an easy decision, right?  It is.  Mediation has made its comeback.