PRIVATE & AFFORDABLE MEDIATION
• Family Separation, Custody, Estate Disputes
• Pay By The Hour - No Retainer Required
• Schedule Sessions At Your Own Pace
• After-Hours Sessions Available
• Individual Attorney Involvement Welcomed
• Initial Consultation $100
About Mediation Services
Introduction To Family Mediation
Divorce mediation is often very detailed, and can be complicated and emotionally charged. Add what comes along with litigation: no communication, Court appearances, deadlines, legal fees, and it becomes a truly adversarial process. Neither side wants to give in, neither side wants to appear vulnerable, neither side is willing to make concessions.
On the other hand, mediation with two divorcing adults, sitting at the same table across from each other can get results faster and with less expense.
For a $100 consultation fee and 45 minutes of time, I can explain the process and goals of mediation. Schedule an appointment together or by yourself. If you’re coming alone, and you convince your spouse to come in later, I charge an additional $50 follow-up consultation to go over it again.
We have three convenient locations for mediation appointments: Millville (at Jacob & Chiarello), Bridgeton and Woodstown. After 5:00 p.m. appointment are available.
The goal of mediation is to arrive at a comprehensive written understanding of all of the terms in agreement between the clients. The document is either written as Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding which is understood and agreed upon by both parties. That Agreement may be presented to a judge as a divorce settlement, no litigation necessary.
I am an attorney actively practicing Family Law and I can provide “legal information” to both parties; I cannot provide two people that are going through a divorce with “legal advice” – that’s personal to the client. Your own attorney review and input is welcome.
The Mediation Process & Goals
Mediation is a process which may require each participant to trust the other, to a degree that may not be comfortable. Although some clients participate in Mediation to avoid a perceived harsher result in Court, most genuinely wish to resolve their differences while maintaining control of the process. In Court, litigants are subject to the scrutiny and decision of a Judge, who may not necessarily come to understand or be sensitive to the individual details of a client's life. Mediation permits clients to make decisions for themselves, at their own pace.
Our goal in Mediation is to arrive at a comprehensive settlement on all issues involved in the Family dispute, Separation or Divorce, depending on the circumstances, and have the comprehensive settlement memorialized in an Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding which may then be reviewed by each party's attorney. The Mediation Process may involve discussions about children, property, finances, security, insurance, retirement and debts.
Although common, it is not necessary to begin the Mediation Process with both clients. As long as both parties have signed this Mediation Agreement, the Mediator may meet with one client individually to discuss the circumstances of the dispute, and possible settlement options. Please review the Confidentiality and Fees portion of this Agreement for details.
Usually, the Mediation Process involves multiple Sessions, in which both clients participate together. Sessions usually last more than an hour, but will be limited to two hours per day. Mediation Sessions may include a 15-minute break every hour, which does not count toward the 2-hour limit. It is common for circumstances or goals of the clients to change during the Mediation Process, and in that case the goals of the Mediation may change as well.
A fundamental principle in my mediation practice is "We do not have an agreement on anything, unless we have an agreement on everything." The goal of mediation is to arrive at a comprehensive written understanding of all of the terms in agreement between the clients. The document is either written as Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding which is understood and agreed upon by both parties.
We each acknowledge that we are voluntarily participating in the Mediation Process. We each understand that this Mediation Agreement or payment of the Retainer Fee does not bind us to continue to work with the Mediator. The Mediation may be terminated, suspended or postponed or Sessions rescheduled at any time, by either client for any reason, by simply contacting the Mediator. We each agree that the neither of us will hold it against the other if either chooses to discontinue Mediation.
The success of the voluntary process depends on the development of trust from increasing openness and risk-taking. As a result, we each acknowledge that everyone involved in Mediation, and the Mediation process itself, needs the protection offered by complete confidentiality. What is discussed in mediation stays in mediation, and there are New Jersey Court Rules which keep it confidential. Any disclosures made by either parent (except child abuse) are excluded for evidence in Court. A mediator may speak with each party separately and each client understands that, unless the client specifically requests that the Mediator keep information confidential, that information may be disclosed to the other client.
Although the parties may reach an agreement between themselves, either can consult with an attorney or have an attorney review the agreement. A mediator may be a lawyer, but a mediator is not a lawyer for either party participating in mediation. A mediator's job is to find common ground, and reach an agreement, not inform clients about their legal rights. Even if you are well informed, or even a lawyer, it is usually a good idea to consult with an attorney. Just because you go to mediation, you do not waive your right to get your own lawyer for legal advice.
About Fees & Payment
INTRODUCTION TO MEDIATION (for one or both participants):
The Introductory Mediation Session (typically 45 minutes) with either one or both clients will be a charged as a flat fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).
If only one client is present for the Introductory Mediation Session, and the second client wishes to participate in mediation afterwords, a second Introductory Session may be provided at a reduced flat fee of Fifty Dollars ($50.00).
During this Session we will discuss:
• the Mediation Process,
• the overall circumstances of the dispute,
• our goals and expectations,
• problems which may arise during the Mediation Process,
• the issues we intend to address in Mediation,
• documentation and information to bring to the first session.
The Introductory Session will be kept to approximately Forty Five (45) minute period. At the conclusion of the Introductory Session, if the client or clients wish to consider Mediation to resolve their dispute, we may discuss:
• estimate mediation time expected to reach an agreement,
• the fee structure,
• forms to complete before the first Mediation Session,
• and schedule the First Mediation Session.
HOURLY RATE AND FEE STRUCTURE
The hourly rate for Mediation Services is Two Hundred Seventy Five Dollars ($275.00) per hour, billed in minimum 15-minute increments for Sessions, minimum 6-minutes for telephone calls or e-mail correspondence in furtherance of the Mediation Process. There will be no charge to reschedule a Session, however the clients will be billed 15 minutes of time for a missed Session unless it is canceled at least one day in advance.
Clients have the option to pay the Mediation Fee:
• by Retainer (in advance),
• regular monthly installments, or
• incrementally, at the start of each Session.
Regardless of the method of payment, billing records will be kept, and provided to the clients on a monthly basis.
Clients who choose to pay in increments will be required to pay for one hour ($275.00) at the start of each Session. If a Session exceeds one hour and clients are paying in increments, or if the Mediator provides Mediation services for the clients before the next Session (research, review of documents, telephone calls, e-mail exchanges), clients will be billed and will be required to pay for any additional time at the start of the next Session.
THE WRITTEN AGREEMENT
The goal of mediation is to arrive at a comprehensive written agreement which is understood and agreed upon by both parties. In most cases I charge a flat $1,000 fee to prepare the written agreement, referred to as a Matrimonial Settlement Agreement or MSA. Since the ideal result is an agreement that accurately reflects the intention of the parties, the $1,000 fee includes modifications to the agreement and a final review of the agreement with the mediation clients before signing.
Once we have a final Matrimonial Settlement Agreement following mediation, I offer to finalize the divorce on the condition that it remain consensual and non-contested, for a flat fee $1,500. The fee includes a consultation with both to explain the legal ethics and the process, drafting and filing the divorce complaint for the agreed-upon plaintiff, service on the agreed-upon defendant, scheduling the final divorce hearing, finalizing the divorce "on the papers" - without the need to appear in court, and a gold-sealed Final Judgment of Divorce incorporating the Final Judgment of Divorce to each party. In most cases a divorce can be finalized in about 3 months.
The flat fee includes:
• transmitting the agreement to both clients for review,
• minor revisions to the agreement (up to an hour of work),
• final review of the agreement, in the office, by both clients,
• signature and witness of three copies of the agreement,
• providing one original agreement to each client,
• providing a digital copy of the signed agreement to each client.
Billed & Unbilled Services
Clients will be billed for Mediation Sessions and/or caucuses, written letters, telephone calls and/or e-mail correspondence with either client (except matters exclusively involving scheduling or billing), review of documents necessary for the Mediation Process and discussions with consultants concerning our Mediation.
There will be no charge for telephone calls (or e-mails) to reschedule or suspend a Session or discuss a bill.
There will be no charge for 15-minute breaks taken during a Mediation Session.
Clients will be billed 15 minutes of time for a missed Mediation Session unless it is canceled one day in advance.
The goal of mediation is to arrive at a comprehensive written understanding of all of the terms in agreement between the clients. The document is either written as Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding which is understood and agreed upon by both parties.
An Agreement that represents a complete settlement of the issues in dispute can be presented to a Judge in Court as a settlement. A Memorandum of Understanding has the same terms of understanding as an Agreement but has no signatures. Certain attorneys who represent clients in mediation require mediators to prepare Memorandum of Understanding instead of a formal written agreement. The cost for preparing either is the same.
In most cases, the cost for the preparation of the document is a flat fee of Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($750.00).
The flat fee includes:
• transmitting the document to both clients for review,
• minor revisions to the document (up to an hour of work),
• final review of the document, in the office, with both clients,
• signature and witness of three copies of the document,
• providing one original document to each client,
• providing a digital copy of the signed document to each client.
The fee for any Consultants hired to assist in the Mediation Process will be the responsibility of the clients, separate from the Mediation Fee. These separate fees will be discussed with us beforehand and billed directly to us by these professionals.
To schedule a consultation call 856-825-0700.
To schedule a consultation with Bohdan Zachariasevych, the Family Law attorney at the firm of Jacob & Chiarello, contact Michele at (856) 825-0782. The flat fee cost for a Family Law consultation to get legal advice (other than Family Mediation) is $200.00 payable at the time of the appointment. Clients who have retained the services of Bohdan Zachariasevych may contact Bohdan by email.
The information presented is intended to provide a broad and general introduction to the topic specified, and is not intended as legal advice. Every legal case is unique and this information may not apply to you. You should not rely on it exclusively. There is no substitute for legal advice, one-on-one, from attorney to client and you should have a consultation with a licensed attorney if you want to know your legal rights.