Vermont Mediator — Montpelier
Mediation for Washington County
I offer mediation to the Montpelier area for family issues such as:
- Divorce mediation
- Custody issues such as legal rights and responsibilities and parent-child contact schedule
- Parenting agreements such as routine schedule, holidays, vacations
How mediation works
The role of the mediator
My role as the mediator is to facilitate an effective discussion and negotiation. Quite often people get stuck in their discussion, arguing about the past, or dragging several other topics into the current discussion, making the discussion contentious and slow.
As a professional mediator, I'll help you stay on track and keep you moving forward. If you get stuck, I can offer suggestions based on what I have seen work for other people.
I don't decide who is "right", and I don't make any decisions for you. Mediators also don't report anything to the court.
You are in full control
The two of you will have full control of the outcome, which in my opinion is the strength of mediation. You will decide what is the right solution — not a judge. You can take the time you need to brainstorm and negotiate. If some thinking or research is required, you can schedule another session for one or two weeks later, and then come back to the table with your thoughts and information.
Some of the topics covered in mediation are complex, and it takes time, thinking and research to do it right. If it goes to court, you'll have a half hour or an hour for a hearing, which isn't really enough time for the judge to fully understand your situation.
I do most of my mediations by video conference (Zoom). The video environment works well for mediation, doesn't require driving time, and allows both people to feel safe. I encourage people to work in joint session — the mediator facilitating with both parties present — so that you can brainstorm together and hear each other directly. This is the most effective and efficient way to work together in most situations.
However, sometimes people are strongly opposed to seeing the other person, or conflict is very high. In these situations I can keep each person separate in the Zoom environment, and talk with each one individually, relaying information and negotiations between the parties. This "shuttle mediation" is less efficient, but can be a useful tool in some situations.
After you have come to agreement, I'll summarize your agreements in a document. In certain situations, you may want to file your agreements with the court. For example, if you already have a parenting plan as part of a divorce decree, and you have changed the parent-child contact schedule for your young children, it may make sense to submit an updated parenting plan. I can help create that updated document, or you can work with an attorney to create it.
What if we don't come to agreement?
People are often pleasantly surprised how much they accomplish in mediation. Even people who have a very difficult time talking can come to agreement. However, sometimes people just can't agree. In that case, you always have the option of going to court and having a judge decide.
I’m happy to discuss your situation with you by phone, at no cost, to describe how mediation can help you with your situation. Email me to set up a free consultation.
Erik Wheeler is an approved mediator in the Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program, and is a member of the Vermont Bar Association and Vermont Family Mediators (VFaM).