LAUREN M. MACNEILL
JD, MSW, LCSW
Lauren provides family mediation in the areas of divorce, domestic partnership dissolution, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, domestic partnership agreements, post-divorce/decree modification issues, parent-teen, adoption, grandparent and third party visitation, and eldercare.
Mediation is Voluntary and Confidential
The mediator assists people who are in conflict in identifying the issues to be discussed, clarifying common and disparate needs and interests, and in negotiating mutually satisfactory agreements. Unlike the adversarial process (using attorney-assisted negotiation or going to trial), participation in mediation is chosen voluntarily by the parties, who can opt out at any time. Mediation helps parties to a conflict to learn about and consider the options available to them for the resolution of their dispute. Also, mediation communications are protected as confidential under Oregon state law, rather than being part of the public record. For many people, privacy is especially important in family matters.
Mediation Saves Time and Money
The average divorce in the United States costs $15,000 according to most sources, and can often go much higher. Because of backlogs in court dockets, a divorce can last up a year or longer before final resolution. Further, parties who remain in high-conflict can return to court again and again for post-decree litigation, adding even more time, expense, and aggravation for themselves and their families. In mediation, where parties are working with each other, rather than against each other, parties often realize significant savings in time and money.
Mediation Preserves Relationships between the Parties in Dispute
When people work against each other, advancing only their own individual interests, relationships tend to break down. When people work with one another to reach agreements that are mutually acceptable, relationships improve. Mediation helps parties improve their perception of the other person. An important longitudinal study by researcher Robert Emery, PhD., has shown that parents who participated in mediation rated the other parent higher in every one of 10 parenting skills than did parents who used the adversarial system (attorney-assisted negotiation or going to court).
Mediation Preserves Relationships between Parents and Children
When people design their own agreements, they are more likely to create parenting plans that they stick to, increasing the likelihood that children will maintain connection with both of their parents. In Robert Emery's study on divorce mediation, parents who mediated their agreements had more frequent in-person and telephone contact with their children 12 years after the divorce or separation than did parents who had their parenting plans negotiated by attorneys or ordered after a custody hearing in court.
Mediation Improves Compliance and Consistency
Mediated agreements are often more detailed and thorough than agreements arrived at through other methods. When parties are clear about what will happen next and what is expected of them, they are more likely to follow through, and have fewer disputes arise later due to vague terms or unclear expectations. Such consistency and predictability is good for disputants and for their children, and helps rebuild trust between the parties.
Decisions Remain in the Hands of the Parties
Participants in mediation hold the decision-making authority, including decisions regarding the process as well as the final agreements. The mediator is impartial; she does not take sides, make judgments, or make decisions for the participants. Instead, as the mediator, Lauren will provide information and education to help parties identify the range of options and make informed, mutually acceptable decisions.
Mediation Models Healthy Conflict Resolution for Children and for the Community
People in conflict often feel despairing and have little hope for positive resolution. Parents rightly are concerned about the impact of family conflict on their children. Mediation offers an opportunity for parties to learn to handle conflict differently, to understand and ask clearly for what they need, to hear and understand another person's needs, and to find solutions that work for everyone. The mediator helps you not only find solutions to your current dispute, but to build skills to help you resolve interpersonal disputes in the future. Show your children, your neighbors, your coworkers that there is a healthy way to resolve conflict.
A summary of more than 50 studies on divorce mediation supporting the above assertions is available here.
How much does it cost? Can I bill insurance?
Please see the "Pay Online" page for fee information.
Health insurance benefits, including mental health insurance benefits, do not cover mediation. Generally, mediation is paid for out-of-pocket. Some companies have EAP programs that have some benefits for mediation; you can check with your company to see if any such benefits are available for you.