Client Testimonial

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After failing with two other mediators, Dwayne worked with my wife and me, both together and in individual sessions, to assist us in formulating creative solutions for our parenting plan. That was the key to our success in achieving a mediated settlement to our divorce rather than needing to resort to costly litigation. At times, our mediation was so high-conflict that individual meetings were necessary to hold the mediation together. I have recommended Dwayne to friends and I thank him for his assistance in resolving the most stressful situation I have experienced in my life. -Tim P.

Can a Shared Parenting Plan Really Work?

A key issue that often requires a lot of time to resolve in either the mediation or litigation models of divorce resolution is custody and visitation plans.  A benefit of mediating a divorce versus litigating it is that mediation empowers the couple to develop creative solutions to parenting plans, rather than disempowering a couple by having a judge impose a plan on a couple.

In my mediation practice, I have worked with couples to tailor shared parenting plans that have proven to be very successful.  Rather than settling for a standard visitation schedule of a few hours once a week and every other weekend for the non-custodial parent, shared parenting plans can dramatically increase the amount of time the non-custodial parent can spend with the children.

Specifically, some couples find that living in homes that are in the same communities permits them to fashion a shared custody plan where the children spend approximately fifty percent of the time with each parent.  The children have rooms in both parents’ home and move between homes in a seamless way that results in maximizing the time spent with each parent.  Finally, a couple with adequate individual incomes can opt to waive child support completely or modify the amount paid significantly if they are engaging in a parenting plan that shares custodial time equally.

Visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent can be expanded to include two overnights during the week or an additional overnight during the week for which the non-custodial parent does not have a weekend visitation.  The variations are limited only by the creativity of the couples engaged in the collaborative process which takes place during mediation.

It is important to focus on the children, their ages and abilities to accept and live with shared parenting plans.  For some the more traditional parenting plan will serve the family better than one in which the children are moving during the week between the parents’ homes.  This is the hallmark of mediation in that it encourages the collaborative exploration of solutions that are tailored to the specific needs and desires of the family.

Should you have any questions regarding the divorce mediation process, please visit my website at li-divorcemediation.com for more information and/or contact me at dwagner@li-divorcemediation.com.

How Does a Dominant Emotionally Abusive Spouse Affect a Divorce Mediation?

As an attorney mediator, I believe it is my responsibility to not allow a dominant, emotionally-abusive spouse to control how a mediation session is conducted or the flow of discussions occurring within the mediation session.  Both parties must have an opportunity to be heard without being interrupted or controlled by the other party in the mediation.

I have had emotionally abusive individuals who have dominated conversations with their Dwayne Wager, Esq: How Does a Dominant Emotionally Abusive Spouse Affect a Divorce Mediation?spouses for years attempt to exert the same control in our mediation sessions.  It is imperative that the controlling conduct not be permitted to proceed within the mediation session.  In this situation, I view part of my responsibility as a mediator to ‘level the playing field’ by not permitting the abusive spouse to dominate the discussions occurring within the mediation.  Additionally, I instruct the abusive spouse to direct their comments to me and not at their spouse and ensure that each party has adequate time to express their respective positions and concerns without being intimidated and/or interrupted by the other party to the mediation.

Handling an abusive spouse is critical to the success of a divorce mediation.  If the playing field is not maintained as reasonably balanced as possible by the mediator, the emotionally abusive individual would likely dominate discussions and intimidate their spouse. Continue reading

Can Divorce Mediation Work for High Net Worth and High Conflict Couples?

Many people feel that only very simple divorce cases without significant assets involving low conflict couples can be successfully mediated. For example, they think a mediation won’t work if one spouse owns a business or has substantial financial holdings. The truth is that mediation can work effectively from the simplest case to the most complicated divorce.

Assuming that the couples will disclose their assets in more complicated financial arrangements, there’s no reason that the most complicated cases can’t be mediated.  When we compare the processes of litigation versus mediation, lawyers and judges don’t quantify the values of most business or pension assets during the litigation process. Similarly, the same third-party professionals like forensic accountants are utilized to help quantify these assets in a divorce mediation.  What is lost in mediation is the significant expense of paying two lawyers to attend several court conferences, and the very expensive motion practice, with its inherent time delays that litigating attorneys often engage in.

There’s a misconception that if you can’t really work well together that you can’t mediate, and that’s not necessarily true. As an attorney, I’ve seen very experienced judges that I’ve worked with, taking individual litigants and meeting with them together before a trial, and then actually meeting with them independently in their chambers after determining which issues were going to be presented at trial.  The judges were essentially mediating a settlement.

I’ve conducted mediations where after the initial meeting, I meet with the two spouses individually for part of the subsequent mediation sessions to assist them in getting past an impasse.  I work with them to the point where they’ve reached agreements on as many issues as possible using me as the neutral third party to help refine and transmit their respective positions to one another. This allows me to ultimately get the couple to the point where they are able to settle their case and sign a Stipulation of Settlement, working out custody, visitation, and equitable distribution of marital and separate property.

Assuming the couple is committed to the mediation process, they can overcome communication and other issues to successfully mediate their divorce.  Should you have any questions regarding the divorce mediation process please visit my website at li-divorcemediation.com for more information and/or contact me at dwagner@li-divorcemediation.com.