Option To Have Two Mediators called “Co-Mediation”
At Zonder Family Law Mediation our approach to divorce mediation is unique. Our mediations are conducted by lawyer-mediator, Lisa Zonder. If you and your spouse both agree, she forms strategic alliances with allied professionals such as a financial professionals or a divorce coach, depending on which professional you both believe is important to help you reach decisions and get your questions answered. As an example, Lisa, as Mediator, can bring in a forensic CPA, if you have any questions about whether the community has any interest in a business that was operated during marriage. Lisa and the forensic accountant would, by agreement of the clients, work together as a team to provide you with the guidance and support needed to settle your case.
Our mediations are not based on gimmicks but rather on realistic assessment and analysis and hard negotiation. We work hard to help you settle your dispute. We use countless mediation tools in our mediator’s toolbox to try and facilitate an agreement.
Mediation starts when the parties sign a written agreement. A sufficiently detailed written agreement is presented to the clients for review and signature.
The clients agree to appoint Lisa Zonder as Attorney-Mediator. She is a neutral and does not represent either client. The clients have the option to proceed with or without attorneys who will serve as their consultants to answer the clients specific legal questions. Since the mediator is a neutral, both clients are encouraged to retain independent attorneys to help assess their settlement objectives, understand the law and review the final settlement.
In a more complex divorce case, where the clients bring their attorneys into the process, we encourage counsel to submit a mediation brief if there are multiple issues, but this is not strictly necessary.
The following paragraph applies only if clients bring their attorneys to mediation: At the beginning of the session the mediators will briefly meet with counsel for all parties. They will make a brief opening statement setting forth the “ground rules”. If counsel and the mediators agree, the mediation will then proceed to a session attended by all parties and counsel. At this joint session, counsel and the parties will be given an opportunity to speak and present their thoughts. Once the joint session is completed the remainder of the mediation is usually composed of a series of alternate separate sessions between the mediators and the parties.
All statements made at mediation are confidential. At the beginning of the mediation, both clients will be reminded of the agreement that each signed confirming the confidentiality of all materials submitted and statements made at the mediation.
If your matter is settled at the mediation, generally a hand written or computer generated summary of the agreement will be prepared and signed by both clients and counsel (if clients have retained counsel). The mediator or co-mediators will work with counsel to prepare a memorandum that accurately and effectively represents the clients’ agreement. Generally, thereafter, a comprehensive settlement agreement and/or release will be prepared by Lisa Zonder, Attorney-Mediator and circulated for review by counsel for the clients.
Generally speaking, California law provides that an agreement reached in mediation is NOT enforceable, admissible or discoverable unless the parties agree otherwise. For details of the legal requirements regarding enforceability, admissibility and discover ability, see California Evidence Code Sections 1115-1128.