Lori Barkus is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator and a family law mediator.
As such she knows that mediation can be an effective way of reaching a settlement on all issues, including, time sharing and child support, property distribution and alimony. In reaching a divorce agreement without going to court and disputing the issues, couples are able to save much needed financial resources and are also able to keep their children out of what could otherwise become an emotionally difficult situation.
Divorce mediation has become a popular alternative to the court process, which can be expensive, time-consuming, emotionally draining and often does not achieve the desired result. It is less expensive to hire one mediator than to hire two lawyers. A litigated divorce can cost ten times more than parties will spend on mediation. Even cases that settle prior to trial are far more costly, with the parties paying 30 percent to 40 percent more and generally not achieving a more beneficial settlement than they would have reached through professional mediation.
Divorce mediation also is less time consuming. You might be surprised to learn how long the divorce process takes when the court is involved. Due to the large numbers of divorces filed in South Florida, parties can wait months. Couples must wait on the judge’s availability and often grow frustrated with the lack of progress and seemingly endless delays. The discovery process and court-ordered status conferences are time consuming and expensive.
By opting for divorce mediation the parties can take control by setting their own timetable. Many divorce cases where there are neither significant assets nor children involved can be resolved in one session. Some matters may require additional sessions. However, in divorce mediation, the parties have the ability to work with their own schedules as opposed to being at the mercy of the crowded court system.
Divorce mediation generally results in greater satisfaction because those involved can make their own decisions regarding what they wish to do with their children, property and other assets. The process affords the parties a great deal of flexibility in working out an agreement that suits their particular needs.
In general, mediated divorce agreements tend to be more comprehensive, allow for a more flexible time sharing schedule with children and a lower rate of litigation over issues down the road.
Is mediation for you? Ask yourself if it’s important for you to:
-Decide for yourselves issues such as time-sharing with your children.
-Save money by each of you not having to hire an attorney.
-Avoid the costly, time consuming and emotionally draining litigation process.
-Reach a resolution that benefits your children and yourselves and one that will allow you to remain on amicable terms and be effective co-parents.
Lori Barkus focuses on facilitating settlement of divorce issues and reducing the impact divorce has on children She has assisted many divorcing couples in reaching agreements that benefit both parties. She has a flexible appointment schedule to accommodate your work and child-rearing schedules. Evening and weekend appointments are available.
As a mediator, Lori Barkus can do the following:
-Assist you with reaching an agreement concerning all issues relating to your divorce. We can address issues such as property, visitation, time-sharing and support.
-Assist you with creating a flexible time-sharing arrangement with both parents and children.
-Assist with the preparation of the pleadings, which will be filed with the court, including a child support guidelines worksheet.
-Prepare the child support forms for you based on information you provide.
-Explain to you how to file these papers.
However, it is important to note that if you select Lori Barkus as a mediator she cannot do the following:
-Answer any legal questions concerning your rights to property, alimony, child support, or anything else of a legal nature. For example, She cannot tell you whether one party is entitled to keep the marital home, receive alimony, or what a judge would do in a particular situation.
-She cannot tell you what you would be entitled to or what a judge would order you to do.
-Because a mediator must be neutral and cannot represent either party, Ms. Barkus cannot consult with one or both of you prior to the mediation to discuss whether you need legal advice. Nor can she discuss the facts and circumstances with either party prior to an initial conference.
How the mediation process works
During the initial consultation, Ms. Barkus will go over a list of the issues that need to be addressed. She also will provide both parties with financial affidavits, which must be filled out prior to the mediation conference. This is a good time to “weed out” any issues that may require legal advice. One or both parties may feel the need to seek a consultation with an attorney on one or more issues. After receiving legal advice concerning these issues they can proceed to a mediation conference.
In addition, Ms. Barkus uses this initial meeting to determine whether there is any additional information you will want to obtain before the mediation conference. Following the initial conference, she will schedule a time and date for the mediation conference.
At the mediation conference, she will discuss all the issues pertaining to your children, property, debts and any other matters you deem necessary to resolve in the context of your divorce. She will schedule additional mediation conferences as needed. If an agreement is reached, we will prepare a marital settlement agreement along with other pleadings that will need to be filed with the court.
If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.