Why Hire a Mediator?

Success Rate

Most legal disputes settle.  Often times the parties have already hired attorneys and paid hefty legal fees so that their lawyers can negotiate back and forth to come to a resolution prior to going to court.  Sometimes lawyers hire a mediator and the parties split the cost, in addition to legal fees they’ve already paid.  Parties may even pay lawyers for their time during the mediation.

Studies indicate that most parties, even the most opposed parties, resolve their disputes in mediation, even if they have never tried mediation before.  Overall, mediation is about 75% effective.

Save Money

If most legal disputes settle anyway, why choose mediation instead of hiring lawyers and letting them resolve the dispute between them?  Most lawyers charge an hourly rate or a flat fee that estimates the time or work involved in handling your case.  If two parties pay separate lawyers an hourly rate of say, $185 per hour, and both have to work 10 hours to get your case resolved, you’ve spent at least $3,700 to settle your case between the two parties, not including additional filing fees or charges.

In contrast, a mediator usually charges an hourly or flat fee as well, but the fee is split between the parties, and mediations average 4 hours.  (Obviously, some are longer and some are shorter.)  Even if the mediator charges the same hourly rate, at 4 hours, you’ve only spent $740, and you will split that fee with the other party, so you are only down $370 in that hypothetical.  (Rates vary for lawyers and mediators.  Check with your mediator.)  It can be much more economical.

Having Your Say

Mediation is not binding.  In other words, the mediator only facilitates communication between the parties and does their best to find common ground to encourage resolution that both parties can live with.  Nothing the mediator says or does is binding and, unless you sign a settlement document that you agree to, you can walk away from a mediation if it isn’t going your way.

The mediator is not a judge or a lawyer for the purposes of your mediation.  They do not and cannot offer legal advice or tell you what a judge might or might not do.  Instead, they get to the heart of the dispute.  They listen to each party and help them craft a settlement that takes both sides’ interests into account.

This is not true of other forms of dispute resolution, including arbitration or going to court.  In a courtroom, the judge is going to apply the law to your particular set of facts and decide based on what the statues and cases say.  If the facts are not in your favor, you are likely to lose and you have nothing to say about it.  If the judge orders you to do something, you must do it.  You may not like the result, and you may end up paying part or all of the other side’s fees and costs in some types of cases.

Even if you decide to appeal and see if the higher court will see your side, it can drag out your case for years, and you still may not get the result you want.  In fact, most appeals do not result in the judge being overturned.

In mediation, you will not be bound to anything unless you agree to it.

Relationship Repair

More often than not, the people who we have disputes with are people with whom we’d prefer to keep a positive relationship.  It may be that we have a legal issue with our in-laws, a sibling, a neighbor, an employer, a vendor or contractor we have used for years, a friend, a spouse or mate, or someone else who it would benefit us to maintain healthy ties to going into the future.

Mediation can help both parties see the other side’s point of view and repair misunderstandings and hurt feelings so that each party’s reputation remains intact and they can move forward without any grudges or smudges.

Informal Setting

When you go to court, you should dress for court and present yourself in a way that helps the judge to look favorably upon you.  You want to put your best foot forward, and you may feel anxious because you don’t know the law and the procedures of the courtroom.  There are often other people waiting to have their cases heard after you, and they are allowed to sit and hear your testimony even though they are strangers and a court reporter will type every word you say into the record.  You are going to be rushed through, in many cases, because the judge has a full calendar and needs to move through everything on the docket.  It can be intimidating and scary.

In a mediation setting, you may dress and present yourself how you most feel comfortable.  There are no code rules of procedure or conduct that you have to obey, and the law is irrelevant.  Yes, I will repeat that.  The law is irrelevant.  What matters in a mediation is an agreement that both parties can live with.

You won’t be penalized if you didn’t follow the procedures, file the right paperwork, or wear the right shoes.  You will have time to be heard.  No one will rush you or cut you off.  You will be in a private room where total strangers will not be allowed to hear your private business.  Nobody will record every word you say.

Flexibility & Time

In a litigated case, one that goes to court, you or your lawyer will receive a notice from the court and most of the time the judge will set a date and time and you must be there.  There is little room for flexibility that meets your schedule, because the court has many matters to hear and is often backed up.

You may not get a trial date for two years in some types of cases.  Even if you get a date, you may be second or third in line for that slot, so it may not go on that date anyway.  Each time you have a hearing, you likely have to take time off of work at some inconvenient hour and often end up with another date to return to court again.

In mediation, the facilitator will schedule a time that is within their business hours, but one that you agree to and that meets your schedule.  You can plan ahead and take time off of work one time to resolve the matter.  You may even luck out and get a slot that is early enough or late enough in the day to avoid missing work at all.

Conclusion

As you can see, mediation saves time, frustration, money and often saves face all while effectively resolving your dispute.

If mediation sounds right for your dispute and you’d like to know how it works or schedule a mediation, I’d be happy to consult with you.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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Who Keeps the Ring?

You were engaged.  The date was set.  The flowers were ordered.  The church was booked.  You were so happy!  Everything was going fine and then you hit a little snag.  The snag turned out to be something so big you two couldn’t get past it and now the wedding is off.

Who gets to keep the engagement ring?

Under Wisconsin law, an engagement ring is a conditional gift.  The condition is marriage.  If the marriage does not take place, the ring must be returned.

It doesn’t matter why you broke up.  It doesn’t matter who broke it off.  It doesn’t matter how long you were engaged or wore the ring.  If you didn’t get married, then the ring must be returned to the one who bought it.

Every time you hear people talking about this subject, inevitable exceptions come up.  “Well, what if the ring was given as a Christmas gift?  Or what if it was my birthday gift?  Or what if it was given on another holiday for that holiday?  Or what if he told me he didn’t want it back, but now he is suing me for it and I already sold it?”  So, what happens if you can establish that the ring was a Christmas gift, for example?  Does that pull any weight in Wisconsin?

It is a rare exception, and you will have to consult a lawyer if you feel you fall under one of the exceptions.  There have been cases where a court has allowed the woman to keep the ring if it was, indeed, given instead of other gifts at Christmas, or if it was refused when she tried to return it and she relied on that in selling it, but now he wants the ring back.

States vary, so consult someone in your state about the laws.  Generally, most states do consider an engagement ring a conditional gift.  Miss Manners would say it’s proper etiquette to return the engagement ring, regardless of who called off the wedding.  Aside from legal considerations, I’d ask my client why they want to keep the ring he bought for her.  Is it revenge?  How are you going to feel every time you look at it?

Wisconsin residents, if you have a situation where you are unsure what to do with an engagement ring, or you feel you are entitled to keep the ring or if your ex-fiancée refuses to return the engagement ring and you don’t know what to do to get it back, I would be happy to set up a consultation to see if I can help you resolve the dispute.

Don’t want to go to court and you have more than just an engagement ring to hash out?  I also mediate wedding call-off disputes.  Call for a consultation.

This article is for general information purposes only.  It is not intended as legal advice and it does not constitute establishment of an attorney-client relationship with anyone who reads it.  Keep in mind that the law changes frequently based on legislation and case law.  If you have a legal issue that relates to this article’s subject matter, please consult with a licensed attorney to determine your individual rights and to clarify the law with respect to your particular set of facts.  If you live in another state, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.  Dana Boyle is licensed in the state of Wisconsin.

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The Wedding Lawyer

I am now offering full service legal packages to brides and grooms to be, as well as to event planners and wedding vendors.

Legal services range from contract review, drafting and negotiation, liability waivers, prenuptial agreements, wills, living wills, adjustment of status for an alien spouse or fiance, mediation of wedding disputes, mediation of dissolution of marriage, mediation of call-offs between bride and groom, permits, vendor agreements, incorporation of vendor businesses, and more.

Packages for engaged couples are priced case-by-case and generally include:

  • review of all contracts used by vendors and venues in booking your wedding
  • negotiation of all contracts as needed
  • re-drafting of contracts used by vendors and venues where necessary
  • drafting of contracts used by you with a vendor or venue who does not have its own contract
  • review of venues for liability spotting and permit requirements
  • checking with all vendors and venues for insurance, bonding and licensing where applicable
  • a basic will* OR basic prenuptial agreement**

* Wills may require an add-on charge where trusts are required or other more complicated circumstances are present.  I will have to discuss your estate to determine what is right for you before agreeing on a package.

** Prenuptial agreements likely require each spouse to obtain separate counsel to assure that both parties interests are looked after fairly.  The package would include representation of one party in drafting and negotiating of a prenuptial agreement.

Additional Services Available to Engaged or Married Couples Include:

  • Wills
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Adjustment of Alien Spouse or Alien Fiance Status
  • Mediation of Wedding Disputes
  • Mediation of Wedding Call-Offs
  • Mediation of Venue/Vendor v. Couple Disputes
  • Breach of Contract Claims
  • Small Claims Lawsuits
  • Judgment Enforcement
  • Garnishments
  • Mediation of Marriage Dissolution

Services Available to Vendors, Venues and Event Planners Include:

  • Drafting of Service Contracts
  • Negotiation of Contracts
  • Drafting of Liability Waivers
  • Incorporation of Your Business
  • Small Claims Lawsuits
  • Judgment Enforcement
  • Garnishments
  • Trademark
  • Copyright

I also represent event planners outside of the wedding industry and those who have hired vendors and event planners for other events.

Call today for a consultation.  262-412-0806

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Boyle Law Firm

Justice Served

I am proud and thrilled to announce the opening of my own law practice on Monday, November 2, 2009.  Boyle Law Firm is located in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, and will serve the surrounding communities in Greater Milwaukee and Chicago by welcoming clients who have legal representation needs in Wisconsin.

I’m pleased to embark on a new endeavor as founder and owner of a law practice.  I am especially honored to step up during a time of economic hardship in this country and create my own job and start my own woman-owned small business.  I have to give credit to a legal seminar I attended on diversity in the profession in October, and the emphasis that was placed there on the need for women lawyers to remain in this profession and serve clients who need our expertise.  A few very successful lawyers in the community who I met there encouraged me to walk my own talk and create my own success as a woman lawyer.  I am up for the challenge.

My mission is empowerment through the law.

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Attorney Dana L. Boyle

Consultations and meetings by appointment.

Boyle Law Firm | P.O. Box 1017 | Kenosha, Wisconsin 53141| 262.412.0806| https://boylelaw.wordpress.com | dana_boyle@hotmail.com

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