For context, a mediator does not have the authority to make decisions. The mediator is not a judge. Instead, a mediator works in a neutral capacity and attempts to facilitate agreement such that litigation comes to an early end.
It’s important to understand that the mediator does not represent either party. The mediator's primary goal is to facilitate agreement. If you already have an attorney, we highly recommend that you keep your attorney and have that attorney attend mediation.
The following are a number of reasons for using mediation when you’re going through either a contested divorce or a conservatorship:
It is confidential.
Mediation typically costs less than litigation, especially when the case involves a highly disabled child.
Mediation addresses a few key issues, and leaves the rest for the court to decide; which can significantly lessen the cost of litigation.
Mediation is less adversarial than litigation which reduces animosity between parties and can help preserve a working relationship with the other party.
You and the adversarial party have significantly more control over the process and the outcome than when the court is involved. At trial, the process is often "superficially" fair from a layperson's perspective; for example, there are rules for admitting evidence where such rules apply to both parties, but those rules can appear one-sided. However, the outcome is often not necessarily fair. For example, different judges can order different outcomes regarding spousal support or visitation rights. Never assume that the superiority of your case facts will prevail at a trial.
Again, you have a lot more input at mediation such that you can feel better about arriving at a final agreement that both parties view as fair rather than having a rigid set of court rules determine the outcome.
Mediation is much less emotionally overwhelming and better overall for your children (family law) or a conservatee (conservatorship). A court-litigated fight involving a disabled family member is simply not healthy for anyone due to the slow process of obtaining a judge's decision. This process can take years starting from the date of filing a petition to the date whereby the judge enters a final court order.
As a "safety valve," you still have the option of going to court if mediation is not successful. That is, choosing mediation does not in any way cause you to lose your right to litigate your case in front of a judge.
Please note that anything that took place during mediation will remain confidential (except for signed written agreements and financial affidavits or as otherwise permitted by law).
A mediator cannot order you to do anything. All that’s required to make mediation successful is that both people show up willing to negotiate and be open to compromise. That is where we can help.
Our Mediation Practice
Attorney Jeffrey A. Gottlieb is a "special needs" attorney with two decades of experience representing families with a developmentally disabled child. Most of our minor and adult "kids" have autism or an intellectual disability (for example, down syndrome).
Mr. Gottlieb has many years of experience representing clients at mediation.
As Mr. Gottlieb is nearing the end of his litigation career (though still accepting litigation cases), he has decided to transition his law practice toward mediation services; specifically building upon his extensive experience as a special needs attorney.
Our law practice currently includes special education, family law, adult child support, conservatorships, SSI appeals, and regional center appeals. We understand the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, ABA, IHSS, IEPs, IPPs, IHHS, SSI, psychoeducational assessments, autism assessments (e.g. ADOS testing), and many other matters involving a special needs child, whether an adult or a minor.
We only represent clients with a developmentally disabled child.
Our mediation practice is limited to family law and conservatorship matters.
Please note that based on our experience, mediation succeeds at least 75 percent of the time.
Why take a risk with a mediator who does not have the time or extensive experience to understand the issues specifically unique to a special needs child.
We are here to assist you to bring closure to your litigation case.
For your convenience, we have offices in Orange County and Riverside County.