- “Even after just our initial consultation, sitting and talking about our property was much easier.”
- “You made an inherently difficult experience easier. Thank you! I will gladly refer you to others.”
- “Nothing could have made our experience better. Our mediator was really calm, warm, and impartial. He made us feel equal, and he treated us with the same interest in mind.”
- “Even though our situation was straight-forward and quite amicable, I really appreciated the structure and clarity you provided.”
- “Thanks so much. I feel yesterday’s meeting was very successful. We are talking and the brainstorming ideas are continuing. You’ve given us new ways to think about things. We may be able to figure this out after all.”
- “The overall experience was a walk in the park. I would recommend New Resolution … to anyone in need of this type of service.”
- “Having you prepare our Memorandum of Understanding is making the legal work much quicker and saving money.”
- “Mediation made our divorce process possible. I knew from the beginning that a legal path could never have produced a solution.”
- “I understand that neutrality is your goal, and I feel you accomplished it with heart and feeling.”
- “Mediation worked miracles for our family.”
- “I know I felt very good about sharing these details about my/our lives with you. Very safe. Thanks again.”
- “Mediation helped us go through such a painful process in a civilized way — it helped us cover every aspect of a divorce, which was such unknown ground for us. It really allowed us to focus and cover every potential issue or question that could come up later.”
- “We feel blessed to have you assisting us.”
- “Thank you very much for your time and effort. Your service was well worth my time and expense. You are well qualified and I would certainly recommend you should the occasion present itself.”
- “Our case was simple [for our attorney] to handle thanks to the details of the MoU agreement that you prepared for us.”
- “Thank you for a wonderful guiding and peaceful approach during our sessions.”
- “It was a pleasure working with you, and I would recommend your services to anyone considering ending their marriage.”
- “One benefit is that we both feel we can carry on a friendship after the dust settles.”
- “The mediation was very helpful!”
- “I was given the opportunity to express my point of view and come to an agreement that we both could live with.”
- “Nothing could have improved the mediation experience.”
- “Very calming. Very respectful. Very effective since we were both given the opportunity to be heard. Seeing our assets on the white board was very helpful as well.”
- “Thank you for your expert assistance.”
- “[The mediator] was always so calm and made us feel at ease right from the beginning. I also appreciated the way he would address both parties on every issue and made sure we both agreed on what had been said (never took a silence for granted).”
- “What a great process!”
- “The mediator helped keep both sides calm and focused.”
- “I was impressed with your professionalism.”
- “It’s nice to know that empathy, organizational skills, logic and excellent communication skills can be used to help others.”
- “… high quality, competent, empathetic and responsive …”
- “I had such low expectations of what could possibly be accomplished … [the mediation] helped me not only achieve my most basic goals but also my wildest expectation goals.”
- “The sessions were great, and I thank you for everything [you did] to get us through this tough time.”
- “… helpful, non-conflictual and cost-effective …”
- “Thank you very much for your time and effort. Your service was well worth my time and expense. … I would certainly recommend you.”
- “Perfectly neutral and objective. Very good at reframing each point and at making sure none of the two parties’ views overshadows the other. Also, constant validation of what was said. . Nobody felt rushed into accepting terms that they did not feel comfortable with.”
- “Thank you for helping our family so much.”
- “We are hopeful a peaceful resolution may be reached. Thank you again for your skillful and professional assistance.”
- “The mediator was clear about not taking sides, but was also willing to help elucidate the truth of the situations.”
- “Calm, fair and balanced. It felt safe.”
- “I am thankful and grateful my husband agreed to try this process. I believe mediation has been a far better process than to litigate. Litigating would have been much more heart-wrenching than it has been.
- “Even during long sessions and disagreements with my wife, mediation was helpful and made things easier on both of us.”
- “Thank you very much for drafting our agreement. It looks great. I think you perfectly captured what we discussed.”
- “Our attorney was impressed with the thoroughness of the MoU that we forwarded to her.”
- “I appreciate your patience with us and your compassionate objectivity.”
- “Your clear, concise, thoughtful manner helped build trust on both sides, which is the determining factor in how each side sees the agreement.”
- “What we got accomplished was amazing, considering the odds.”
- “Our mediator was always calm and did not take sides. This really helped keep sessions under control.”
- “I think mediation did a lot to let us know we weren’t as much adversaries and could talk things through on our own.”
- “Thank you for assisting us. I really think we’re fortunate to have your services in such a difficult scenario.”
- “Things were mutually agreed without too much fighting, and we all walked away satisfied.”
- “Thanks for your help with our family.”
- “I consulted an attorney to review the agreement. Her feedback is that you drew up an excellent document. She commented that you covered all areas and composed the MoU in a way that made it easy to develop an MSA.”
- “We were very pleased with your work and your help. Thank you!”
- “The tone that was set from the outset was collaborative, fair, and non-threatening.”
- “Thank you so much for meeting with us. We are both feeling very positive about our choice to work out our divorce through mediation.”
Interviewer: I’m here with Paul Merlyn, founder of New Resolution. Paul, you’re a divorce mediator. Help me understand why divorce mediation is becoming such a popular choice for couples today.
Paul: I think it’s because people are increasingly recognizing that divorce actually creates a set of problems rather than a contest. The problems are things like How should we divide our property? How will we coparent our children after the divorce? And Will I need financial support? I think you see the difference: Contests beget winners and losers, whereas problems need solutions. If you think of divorce as a contest, then you should probably role the dice and play the litigation game. If you think of divorce as a set of problems, then mediation starts to look like a better way to go.
Interviewer: So you’re saying mediation is more solution-oriented than litigation. But I imagine some people feel a lot of emotion that makes it hard for them to be practical.
Paul: You’re right. Most divorces are steeped in emotion. You know, people are people. Yet some mediators think they can somehow force emotional parties into logical and cooperative behaviors. I personally think that approach to mediation is a mistake. It seems to me that our emotions are expressions of our authentic feelings. So I like to work with emotions rather than pretend their not there. So, for example, I spend a lot of time validating, reflect, and redirect emotions to help clients settle their disputes. At the same time, I’ll manage emotions when they get out of hand. I need to ensure that sessions provide a safe environment for clients to express their emotions without making anyone too uncomfortable.
Interviewer: Divorce is notoriously expensive. But are there other reasons besides saving money to try mediation?
Paul: Yes, there are several other reasons, though you’ve hit upon the biggest reason when you mentioned cost. The average litigated divorce in California costs about $50,000 in attorney fees per spouse — or $100,000 total. And I’ve known people spend as much as $150,000 when child custody is an issue. That’s enough to diminish or even completely deplete the estate of some couples. Mediation, in comparison, costs a fraction of that.
Interviewer: And the other reasons to try mediation?
Paul: I think we list a dozen reasons on our web site. Perhaps the most important is that mediation empowers people to make their own decisions rather than delegate decision-making to judges. I think that’s important because studies show people who are active in resolving their disputes do better emotionally as well as financially than those who pursue litigation.
Paul: Uhh. Another benefit is that mediation works. About 80% of cases actually settle in mediation.
Paul: … Yeah, and people are much more likely to stand by the terms of their settlement. I think that’s because they feel less resentment when they’ve participated in shaping its terms.
Interviewer: So, higher compliance. That makes sense. But does mediation ever fail?
Paul: Chances are that mediation will keep you out of a costly and emotionally damaging litigation. But it doesn’t always produce a settlement. Here I think it’s reassuring to recognize that trying mediation doesn’t diminish any of your rights to pursue litigation if mediation fails.
Paul: I like to think of mediation as a first resort, a provisional alternative to litigation. Uhh. Other important benefits are protecting children from the often-traumatic experience of an adversarial divorce; speed (mediation is usually much quicker than an adversarial litigation), and also convenience. We provide mediation in locations throughout the Bay Area, and we do our best to accommodate people’s schedules by offering evening and weekend appointments.
Interviewer: That’s great. … Now I don’t really like confrontation, so I’m wondering: What do you say to people who hate confrontation and just can’t face the idea of being in the same room as their spouse.
Paul: Well, we do offer telephone mediation, but that’s usually when one spouse lives outside the Bay Area or out of state. But in general mediation really works best when parties are in the same room with each other and the mediator. (Just in passing, that’s totally different from litigation, which isolates people, making them unable to communicate directly with one another.) So, we emphasize joint sessions in which both parties are in the same room with their mediator. However, we do also meet privately with each party to explore concerns or at points of impasse.
Interviewer: So each person has a chance to raise any issues they’re maybe uncomfortable saying while their spouse is in the room?
Paul: That’s right. I’m also watching the parties’ body language to detect any moments of discomfort. But hopefully there won’t be too many of those. The process is informal, open, and intrinsically non-confrontational. That said, it’s not a free-for-all. The mediator’s guiding the process at every step towards settlement without ascribing blame, fault, or guilt.
Interviewer: You’re not an attorney, right? Where do attorneys fit into mediation?
Paul: I’m not an attorney. There are attorney-mediators, but they aren’t allowed to give legal advice to either party while acting as mediators. If they did, they’d compromise their neutrality and face a conflict of interest.
Interviewer: That makes sense.
Paul: Yeah. I see the role of mediator and attorney as complementary but separate, Mediators are experts in conflict resolution. Of course, we have to know California’s Family Code, which is the divorce statute for California, but our primary purpose is to guide parties through a complex set of interlinked disputes around custody, support, and property division. Usually, the real blockages to a settlement are emotional issues, especially fear: Will I have enough money? Will I see my children? Will I have to find a new place to live? It’s these kinds of things rather than questions of law that are usually at the heart of why a husband and wife can’t just agree settlement terms over the kitchen table.
Interviewer: So what role would attorneys play in the divorce?
Paul: I think attorneys can play a very valuable role as legal consultants during a mediation process rather than as legal representatives in a litigated divorce. In fact, I recommend my clients consult attorneys for independent legal advice so their informed and empowered. And they should always have independent attorneys review any proposed settlement agreement before they sign it. Likewise, they might need to consult other experts during the mediation process such as real estate appraisers, business appraisers, CPAs, financial planners, and career counselors.
Interviewer: What are the best and worst parts of your work?
Paul: That’s a fun question! I’d say the best part is definitely watching the transformation that takes place from when people begin mediation to when they leave. In fact, there’s often a discernible moment during a session when I can feel the session tipping from conflict to collaboration. Those moments are electrifying. I think I do good work in saving people from an adversarial litigation, and I think I really make a difference in situations that are very high stakes in people’s lives.
Interviewer: And the worst part?
Paul: [Laugh] Mmmm. Well, I’d say this is hard work. My clients are often in a tumultuous phase of their lives. They’re sometimes scared, hurt, angry, anxious, worried. … And you have to be comfortable inserting yourself in the middle of conflict.
Interviewer: It sounds like you really love what you do.
Paul: I do.
Interviewer: And I want to thank you for letting me interview you.
Paul: It’s been a pleasure.
For clients who have already resolved most or all issues, our mediators provide a selection of custom services. We also provide conciliation services as an alternative to mediation. Custom and conciliation services include:
- Conciliation: Employing our good offices to relay information, proposed terms of settlement, and other communications on behalf of parties to help rebuild relationships and avoid unnecessary litigation.
- Divorce Cases: Drafting an agreement to record the terms of your proposed divorce settlement.
- Custody Cases: Preparing a comprehensive coparenting agreement to help ensure your coparenting relationship is free of conflict and to minimize the risk of future litigation.
- Child Support: Assisting with child support determination according to state guidelines to help parents reach a child support agreement.
- Workplace/Business: Development of a sustainable conflict management system to address workplace conflict.
- Review: Reviewing and “road testing” the terms of an agreement to ensure you’ve addressed all issues otherwise covered in mediation.
- Referrals: Referring you to specialist advisors such as consultant attorneys, estate planners, appraisers, CPAs, and therapists or counselors as appropriate.
Please contact us for more details of how we can help you most efficiently and effectively complete your conflict resolution process.
If you’ve ever faced a divorce, custody battle, family, or business dispute, you probably experienced pain and distress throughout the conflict. Conflict becomes even more painful when we attempt to resolve it through adversarial means. These include threats, passive-aggressive behaviors such as refusal to talk about contentious issues, and the inherently adversarial process of litigation.
Our professional mediators provide divorce mediation, custody mediation, family, and business conflict resolution services. Unlike adversarial approaches, which represent conflict as a contest, mediation approaches conflict as a problem to be solved with the help of a professional mediator. Fair and impartial, we’ll guide you to a settlement using a proven problem-solving process in which you’ll attack the problem, not each other. We also provide custom service for clients who’ve already reached substantive agreements but need help completing their resolution process.
Mediation won’t dispel the loss, anger, hurt, or frustration that you may feel when conflict enters a relationship. But it will transform the way you resolve the issues in dispute while significantly reducing both the emotional pain and the financial toll of a more adversarial approach to conflict.
Mediation: A Better Way to Resolve Conflict
Welcome to New Resolution. We believe our problem-solving approach is the better way to settle disputes. Conflict needn’t be debilitating. When approached as a problem, it’s an opportunity for change, an opportunity for growth, and an opportunity to learn.
Our divorce mediation, custody, family, and business conflict resolution services are available through offices and satellite locations in Central Ohio, San Francisco/North Bay, San Mateo-Palo Alto-San Jose, and Walnut Creek/San Ramon. We also provide telephone and video-conference mediation to parties worldwide.
Take some time to explore our site. You’ll learn more about divorce mediation and business conflict resolution and how we guide our clients through divorce, custody, marital, eldercare, and business disputes. We think you’ll agree: mediation is the better way to resolve conflict.
|Central Ohio:||Primarily Central Ohio, but available upon request anywhere in U.S.|
|San Francisco/North Bay:||San Francisco, San Rafael, Petaluma|
|San Mateo-Palo Alto-San Jose:||San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View, San Bruno, Campbell|
|Walnut Creek/San Ramon:||Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Berkeley, Oakland, Newark/Fremont|