Sometimes it helps to understand how things will work ahead of time in order to feel comfortable committing to a process. Mediations at Fritzshall & Pawlowski are conducted by Court Certified Mediator Brad J. Pawlowski. The mediation is charged by the hour with an initial retainer. The process generally proceeds the same for all types of mediated issues.
First, the parties will complete and provide a financial affidavit form that sets forth budgets, assets and debts. Sometimes this is done individually and sometimes jointly, depending on the circumstances. Typically, some basic back up documents are also provided, such as recent tax returns and last statements for bank accounts, investments and debts. The parties also each individually complete a Goals and Concerns form. In doing so, the parties contemplate and answer their own hopes, fears and ideas for the mediation process specifically, but the current and future story of their family in general.
Next, the parties will schedule individual intake sessions, one on one, via zoom or in person depending on the circumstances and the preference. In those intake sessions in a safe and controlled environment, Brad will go over background, identify issues, discuss process, and talk about Goals and Concerns forms. These intake meetings enable Brad to get to know the parties, their motivations and identify issues to be mediated that may lead to relatively easy agreements and those that may be more challenging. Evaluating the issues in this manner allows the mediation to have the best chance at efficiency and success.
After the intakes are completed, joint sessions are typically scheduled, via zoom or in person depending on the circumstances and the preferences. Joint sessions usually involve just the parties and the mediator, but in cases where both parties have attorneys and everyone feels that full participation with all five would be most beneficial, the mediation proceeds in that fashion. Mediation sessions can range from a customary two hour session to as long as four hours or more depending on the parties’ needs and issues.
During the mediation, as the facilitator, Brad helps the parties identify the issues needed to be resolved, and works through those discussions to find an agreement. Depending on the issues and the parties, everyone may be in the same room the entire mediation, sometimes they may be in separate rooms or a combination of both. The parties control the timing, the speed and the frequency of the sessions based on their schedules. Sometimes all issues are resolve in one session, and sometimes it takes several meetings before a full agreement is accomplished. Mediation is as quick or as long as the parties need to be able to reach agreements.
Once the mediation provides the parties with a resolution, they create a written agreement called a Memorandum of Understanding or an “MOU”. The MOU is the affirmation by the parties that they have reached an agreement. Typically, where the mediation surrounds litigation, the MOU is then memorialized by way of a Court order.