Frequently Asked Questions
General Mediation Myths v. Mulford Mediation Facts
Does mediation work? What if I’ve already tried it?
Not all mediators are the same. Unfortunately, many who hold themselves out as mediators are volunteers who have received limited training, have little experience, but are well-intentioned. Philip Mulford is one of the few, full-time, professional mediators in Virginia and the region. His education, skill, background, experience, and training enable him to successfully resolve disputes that have been unsuccessfully mediated and/or litigated in the past.
What if my case is much too complex for mediation?
MulfordMediation has over 32 years of experience in dispute resolution: over 8 years of legal experience in commercial and residential real estate loan transactions and “workouts” and over 24 years of mediation experience successfully resolving the most complex civil cases as well as those issues particular to a marriage or divorce: equitable distribution of pensions and retirement accounts; child support in multiple households; inheritance issues; division of investments in stocks, options, etc.; family-owned businesses; long distance custody and visitation arrangements; related tax concerns; parental relocations; adoption disputes; and estate issues, among others. Mulford tends to receive the “difficult” cases from the court system.
What happens if mediation won’t work because the other side is unreasonable, mean, and we can’t talk to each other?
Mulford’s success does not depend on parties being reasonable, friendly, or even on talking terms. If both parties agree to come to mediation, they have great opportunity for success. Using mediation and communication skills developed over years of experience, Mulford successfully resolves even the most impossible situations between the most impossible parties to each party’s satisfaction.
What qualifies a “Supreme Court of Virginia court-certified” mediator and does this make he or she a “qualified” mediator?
As a professional mediator, I am embarrassed to say that “court-certification” requirements in Virginia are elementary at best and, therefore, very misleading. People with little or no experience or training can become and remain “court-certified” under the current rules. A week and a half of mediation training plus a few hours of observation and co-mediating does not qualify someone to understand and handle the complex and difficult issues he or she will face as a mediator. Yet it does according to the Judicial Council of Virginia. The decisions people make in mediation can be life altering and are often irreversible. Many “court-certified” mediators are part-time volunteers with good intentions who may not have the education, skill, background, experience, or training to be assisting in those decisions.
Do we have to be agreeable or amicable for mediation to work for us?
The only thing parties need to do to resolve their dispute with Mulford Mediation is come to the appointment. They do not even have to sit at the same table or be in the same room. Mulford has resolved long standing matters where, for the sake of resolution, he kept parties separate even though they were “willing” to sit at the table together. Mulford has resolved matters where parties were under court orders not to have contact with the other. Mulford Mediation is not just for friendly foes. Mulford will sometimes separate parties who say they’re ok to be in the same room and will bring other parties together, by consent, even when they initially claimed that they’d never sit in the same room with the other person even with a mediator present.
Is it too late for mediation because I have already hired a lawyer and set a court date or been to court?
The court system is always available - at greater expense of time, money, and stress - if parties cannot reach agreement in mediation. Mulford successfully resolves over 85% of his cases in mediation. Mulford Mediation encourages all parties to obtain legal advice, tax advice, financial planning advice or any other professional advice that they may need to make fully informed decisions in mediation. Wherever you are in the process, it is never too late to start mediation. Many divorcing couples quickly realize that litigation is expensive, time consuming, destructive and not what they had in mind. Many don’t realize it, however, until it’s too late and they’ve already expended their resources. Mulford often receives referrals from attorneys and judges and has often begun successful mediation after parties have unsuccessfully tried to resolve their differences through litigation.
Will mediation work for me if I am intimidated by my spouse and concerned they will walk all over me?
Mulford’s skill and experience is especially helpful in cases where intimidation or unequal bargaining positions are a concern. Mulford uses the mediation process and his years of experience and unique communication skills to create a fair, safe, and balanced environment where both sides have an equal voice and neither party is allowed to “take over” or “push through a decision.”
Will mediation work if I don’t want to compromise?
Mediation is not about creating solutions by convincing one side to give in to the other, or each give 50/50. It is about creating understanding and opportunities that neither party could create independently. Agreements reached in mediation cannot even be imagined independently. Mulford understands and expects that parties will often come to the table with different viewpoints, perspectives, and seemingly unworkable positions.
Why attempt mediation if it is not binding?
A written mediated agreement signed by all parties is enforceable in the same manner as any other written contract. Va. Code §8.01-581.25 Furthermore, mediated agreements last longer and parties are less likely to return to conflict because the mediated agreement is made by both parties and is not imposed on them by the decision of a judge.
Why should I mediate if I’ll win in court?
Why take the risk? Nobody goes to court to lose. Everyone who goes to court is “right” in his or her view. But someone always loses in court. Nobody, including your attorney, can guarantee that that someone will not be you. How can a judge possibly know what’s best for you and your family? Evidence is presented in the adversarial process of blaming the other for everything while painting yourself as perfect. Extreme demands are made. It’s impossible to create a mutually acceptable arrangement in court. That is not the judge’s job. Judges agree that court is not the place to best resolve family cases. You and your spouse are the experts. Stay in control. You lose control in court. Furthermore, you’ll spend your valuable resources unnecessarily, even if you “win.” Mediation gives you control of the outcome at a fraction of the cost.