Cynthia Fox is not only an experienced and skillful family law attorney; she is also a trained and court-approved mediator. As is extensively described elsewhere on this website, much of Cynthia’s mediation work is focused on divorce mediation, which is a significantly less combative and less costly way for a couple to terminate their marriage by working together with Cynthia as their mediator, rather than separately through individual attorneys. (See Divorce Mediation)
Pre-Nuptial Agreements, Child Custody, Child Support and Spousal Support Mediation
However, divorce is not the only issue where the benefits of mediation can be realized. For example, couples not yet married, but desiring to create a pre-nuptial agreement (See Pre-Nuptial Agreements), would likely find it easier to complete what can be a touchy and divisive task with the aid of a mediator knowledgeable in both marital law and productive, peaceful negotiation.
Disputes about child support, child custody or parenting plans, and spousal support can all be resolved through mediation, where the parties would likely find a less contentious and less expensive path to a fair resolution than the traditional process where each side retains their own lawyer.
For example, let’s say one parent (or ex-spouse) believes that the amount of child support (or spousal support) they are paying or receiving is no longer appropriate due to changed circumstances. Traditionally, that person would engage an attorney to file a “motion to modify” the existing support order. (See Modification of Judgments) The other party would be notified by the court of the motion, provided an opportunity to respond, and a hearing date for the motion would be set. That party would also hire their own attorney to prepare an answer, to begin negotiations with the other side and, if necessary, prepare for the hearing.
Mediation Costs Less Financially and Emotionally Than the Traditional Adversarial Approach
In the traditional approach, the two parties are separated and “buffered” from each other by their lawyers. The lawyers work with each other relaying the proposals and counter-proposals of each party, as well as devising legal strategies and tactics and counseling their clients on the law. This approach can be inefficient, time-consuming and costly, particularly if one or both sides become needlessly contentious and stubborn.
Mediation is a less-costly alternative to this approach. It becomes an option when one party (or both) believes that it may be possible to negotiate directly…face-to-face…with the other side, with the aid of a fair and impartial mediator, to keep things on track, constructive and civil.
Cynthia Fox’s role as the mediator is to inform both parties about the requirements of the law in resolving the dispute (that’s where being an experienced family law attorney is very helpful); to suggest new ideas and alternatives for resolution; to make sure both parties “play fair”; and to keep things from getting overheated. Once all the issues have been resolved, Cynthia prepares the paperwork according to the court’s requirements and the couple submits it to the court for its approval.
The process begins with an initial consultation with both parties and Cynthia Fox to discuss the mediation process and determine if both are willing to participate. If both agree, mediation can begin and will continue until the case concludes, or until one party, both, or the mediator decide that the dispute will no longer be mediated. Either party may, at any time, consult with an attorney about what is happening in mediation. Importantly, mediation can begin at any time in a dispute, even after the attorneys have been hired and the motion filed.
At no time can Cynthia Fox meet with one party without the other present, even at the initial consultation, unless permission has been gained from the other party. However, where it is impractical for one party to participate in person (e.g., he/she is out of town), that party can participate by telephone.