Family and Divorce Mediation

Overview of Mediation

The firm’s Divorce Mediator is Mike Jonsson.

Divorce Mediation is a process which brings spouses (or other people in conflict) together with a neutral professional (the mediator), whose only job is to aid and support the negotiations between them, so they can reach agreement.  Acting as your Mediator, Mike provides useful information about the relevant law, helps you develop creative settlement options, and guide you through your negotiations.

Divorce Mediation is a structured calm environment in which clients can have difficult conversations, and in which they can negotiate solutions.  In order to support those negotiations and make communications between clients effective, Mike will make adjustments to his mediation process to make negotiations as fair and balanced as possible.  Sometimes his process adjustments may be hardly noticeable; at other times, such as when active domestic violence or safety is a concern, clients may be required to negotiate from remote locations.  Whether substantial or not, process adjustments are made in light of the unique circumstances of each of our clients, to support their negotiations.

Process adjustments also help reduce client stress and anxiety, which affects how they negotiate.  A big stress reducer: the entire process occurs in Mike’s office, and not in court (a location which breeds stress and anxiety), and we handle all filing and service of necessary documents.

Mike does not and cannot act as the legal advocate or attorney for any client, or order them to do anything.  This is a completely voluntary process.  All decisions must be made only by your mutual agreement.  While Mike may provide general legal information, when detailed specific legal information or legal advice is necessary, clients are referred out to their consulting attorneys.

How does Mediation work?

Mediation clients initially meet with Mike to discuss the Mediation process, the specific needs of clients, and possible initial process adjustments.  Mike’s ability to adjust the Mediation process in light of a client’s unique needs is a significant advantage in helping to keep the process fair and efficient.  Then, in a series of sessions, each lasting between 2-3 hours, Mike facilitates client negotiations, sometimes by providing educational information about the law, and sometimes by providing options of which clients may not be aware.

The length of the Mediation process depends on the complexity of the issues, and your ability to work cooperatively towards compromise. For most couples, this process takes between two to seven sessions.  Some couples are successful with fewer sessions; others need more.  Regardless of the number, the process goes at the pace determined by the clients.

Mike has had special training which allows him to adjust his mediation process to accommodate very high conflict families.  If you and your spouse are in a very high conflict relationship, including one involving any type of violence, please contact Mike for a free process consultation to see if his process can be adequately adjusted for safe and balanced negotiations.  In such circumstances, Mike will speak with each potential client individually to see if this is the right process for them.  We will not proceed with a mediation unless we believe we can establish and maintain a reasonably level playing field between our clients.

For those in low conflict relationships:  Mike’s focus will be to move clients through their negotiations in the most efficient manner possible, after assessing how clients communicate and problem solve with each other.  Low conflict clients can usually negotiate the terms of their agreement by meeting face to face.  Sometimes, however, even though the conflict is low, emotions may be heightened enough so that negotiations start off with written proposals.  Regardless of how negotiations start, Mike will try to help them evolve into effective face to face negotiations.  Mike’s process is to take clients as they are, and modify his process based on client needs.

For those in very high conflict relationships: Understand that while Mike has good success with very high conflict couples, the possibility of an unsuccessful mediation increases with the level of conflict, bad behavior, and dysfunctional communications.  Some of Mike’s cases are real civil wars, and among those, some “fall out” of mediation and end up in court because one or both clients are simply unable to moderate their behaviors, or stay within process boundaries set by Mike.  But in most cases, clients come to agreements, because even if clients can’t agree on anything else, they agree it’s best to avoid court.  And that is enough for negotiations to begin, and they conclude with a reasonable, voluntary agreement.

In recent years, Mediation has benefited from the occasional use of other divorce professionals. Financial Professionals are used to help clients with special or complicated financial issues, and Child Professionals are sometimes useful in helping parents understand the developmental needs of their children, and with custody and other parenting issues. Mike may recommend the use of these, or other professionals, depending upon your particular needs.  The use of these professionals not only provides clients with very useful information, but also allows for more custom tailoring of the Mediation process, depending on client needs and financial resources.  No additional professionals are hired unless clients choose to hire them.

Mediation is also useful to help resolve more than just divorce.  It’s a great process for negotiating prenuptial agreements and marital agreements.  Family Mediation is also effective for non-married families negotiating cohabitation agreements, and to resolve any number of disputes that families sometimes have.

Call us at 916-921-7000, or email us at, to schedule an appointment with Mike, to discuss whether Mediation is the right process option for you and your family.