A SITE ABOUT our family law mediation practice APPLICABLE TO THE STATE OF california

Tristan teGroen as Mediator of Your Family Law Disputes

Tristan has twenty-three years of experience in family law as an licensed attorney in California and makes himself available as a mediator for family law matters. Tristan makes every effort to comply with the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (2005) approved by the ABA House of Delegates.

What Does Mediation Entail?

Mediation is a confidential process where the parties, ideally, are self-determined. The mediator should, by definition, be neutral, not interested in the outcome of the dispute, and should be competent to address the disputes between the parties. When mediating, a mediator, unlike a lawyer, does not advocate for the parties. A good mediator should encourage the parties to evaluate their risks, options and interests and position.

'Mediation' Means Exploring Resolution Through a Mediation Process

Family law mediation is when both parties meet with a mediator in an effort to resolve all issues that might be litigated in a family law case. The mediator, in this case a family lawyer, does not represent either party. The resolution of the issues will be on the form of written agreement or stipulation which will finally become the Judgment of the court between the two parties. As part of the process, mediation sessions are normal when both parties (more are possible if the case involves a joinder) either meet or engage in a conference call to discuss each and every issue. In a divorce or parentage case, the parties will address issues of support, custody, and property division.

Why Use Mediation and Not Just Litigate?

Litigation is much like a sports game. Two teams compete. There is usually a winner and loser; sometimes it is a draw. The process is tiring, takes resources and typically destroys any underlying relationship between the parties. In reality many issues in family law matters are negotiated in the hallways of the courthouse. Mediation formalizes this process by creating a forum with a neutral mediator, who has expertise, in an office. The change in forum reduces stress. Mediation creates swift results - and both parties are in control of the outcome too. A court may create novel outcomes which no parties are in favor of; mediation focuses on a number of acceptable outcomes and variations of these outcomes. Parties to a family law dispute have generally always been close and intimate at a time. Relationships sometimes do end and ending the relationship with dignity and respect is a valuable asset to preservation of that relationship in to the future - a valuable asset where parties might still have common friends and goals such as raising children. An experienced family lawyer as a mediator is also able to give parties to a dispute a very good idea of how a court might approach a particular dispute without the costs of preparing extensive pleadings and multiple visits to the courtroom. Family disputes cost anything from one-hundred thousand dollars upward; it is seldom that mediation costs anything near that sum of money. Mediators typically charge hourly for their services.

Communication is a Positive Result of the Mediation Process

Communication is a basic skill. If a couple has not communicated well during a relationship when it was at its best, they are less likely to communicate well about issues when terminating a relationship. The fact is when parties divorce, the relationship changes but does not end and many aspects of the relationship will continue. Writing and exchanging court papers is not communication; the mediation process is designed to give all parties a forum to discuss an issue and review viable solutions.

Mediating Couples May Use Lawyers and Experts

The mediator does not represent parties to the mediation. An attorney on the other hand has several legal duties to a client, including those of competence and conflict of interest duties. A party to mediation is entitled to the same access to independent counsel. Parties to a mediation can also use experts to provide values or resolve accounting issues.

Which Cases are Best Mediated?

It is impossible to predict when mediation will work best. Cases which generally offer up good prospects are those where the parties treat each other respectfully and are prepared to devote time to discussion. A case where there has been a history of significant violence or abuse, for example, might not be the correct case for mediation. A philosopher called Edward de Bono offered a principal of solving issues called 'lateral thinking.' De Bono writes '"You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper." This means that trying harder in the same direction may not be as useful as changing direction. Effort in the same direction (approach) will not necessarily succeed.' Mediation works best with parties that are willing to change direction and look at other options.

What if Mediation Fails Miserably?

Let's say that mediation is not yielding results - what then? Nothing prevents the parties from resorting to the standard procedural devices to secure a decision from the courts. The courts are there to resolve disputes and have been in place for thousands of years. The court system remains available. However, if the process is 'collaborative, it is possible that new attorneys may need to be hired; a key component of this process is to prevent attorneys from having an agenda to sabotage settlement and litigate. By definition, if the collaborative process fails, the attorneys have typically contracted not to take the case further to litigation and new attorneys should be secured.

Benefits of Mediated Outcomes

The parties to mediation are able to focus on desired outcomes. The outcome is known, discussed and controlled. A neutral fact-finder (judge or court) may create an unknown outcome. Mediation also preserves relationships and maintains dignity. Much of the mud-slinging that takes place during litigation creates pain. Blame, criticism and anger are all on the fore-front in legal pleadings. In reality the parties should take responsibility for their own fault in a failed relationship and attempt to find solutions to outstanding issues with dignity that allows future contact to be positive. Future contact is desirable and unavoidable if the parties have children or common friends and business associates. Mediation is a process which allows for soul-searching and forgiveness. Court hearings and exchanging legal documents are by nature confrontational. Mediation avoids this ugliness. Mediation also allows for openness and honesty. In efforts at zealous advocacy, both qualities are often overlooked in litigation. Litigation is often the final nailin the coffin of a relationship.

Choosing Tristan teGroen for Mediation Services

Tristan teGroen Law provides family law mediation services to parties in all courts in the State of California. Mediation sessions are also available via telephone conferencing and video conferencing at hours that are convenient for all. Sessions are billed hourly and advance payments are typically required when the task is to start and finish a case.