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Harriet J. Fishman Esq.

Separation and Divorce Mediation

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THE MEDIATION PROCESS
Opening Session
I will begin by briefly summarizing the issues of confidentiality and format.
Joint Session
Prior to mediation and with an eye towards resolution of the disputed issues, I will communicate with counsel either by telephone and/or e-mail. This will result in an agreed-upon mediation format based upon the circumstances and your particular needs.
In the order of most-to-least frequently used, below is a brief explanation of 4 possible mediation formats.
1. After the opening session (see above), I will begin the discussion by asking both of you some questions. As I gain an understanding of the history of your marriage, I hope to minimize your anxiety about the mediation process and enhance your trust in me. In joint session, we will summarize and place values on the assets and liabilities of the marital estate. Thereafter, we will divide into individual caucus sessions. If asked how frequently it is used, I would estimate I use this format in 75+% of my cases.
2. In a limited number of circumstances, it may be necessary to forego the joint session entirely (and summarize the issues of confidentiality and format with each party in individual sessions) or start in private caucus immediately after my introductory remarks. See below for a full discussion of the use of private caucuses.
3. Following a review of each party’s Proposed Decrees, I will address the areas of agreement and delineate the issues which remain in dispute. Then, I will actively engage the parties in a discussion of the disputed issues. We will clarify and prioritize the disputed issues. Taking the issues in the order of least to most difficult, we will discuss a variety of resolution alternatives. The goal is to resolve one issue before engaging in discussion of the next.
4. On rare occasions but given the necessity to air critical information, we will engage in an open but frank discussion about, for example, the finances, the children’s needs or the cause of the breakdown of the marriage. With disclosure, comes the opportunity to receive answers to questions posed, digest those answers, and re-evaluate the ramifications of those answers upon each party’s requests for final relief. Use of this method is premised upon the overwhelming significance and resulting impact of this information on final resolution.

Private Caucus Sessions
To achieve final resolution, private caucus sessions are used to discuss issues in dispute, evaluate offers and consider other options. You will have the opportunity to speak with counsel and myself as we work towards an equitable resolution.
To the extent that information is shared with me in private session, I assume I have your permission to disclose such information to the other side unless you specifically request otherwise.
At other times, it may be helpful for me to meet with counsel or the parties, individually or together.
Through the mediation process, I will strive to:

Maintain a respectful environment in which both of you have the opportunity to air your positions;

Assist in reaching an accommodation acceptable to both of you;

Add a realistic voice, if necessary, to the process of negotiations; and

Enable you to reach a conclusion with your dignity intact.