Mediation

Mediation is an effective method to resolve legal disputes that can be utilized before or during the litigation process. As an alternative to litigating a dispute, or continuing to litigate to a judicial resolution, mediation allows all parties involved in a dispute to step outside the traditional adversarial process and attempt to find their own solution to the issues with the assistance of a trained, neutral mediator. The mediator facilitates their communications, helps them identify key issues and interests, and then helps the parties develop workable options for reaching a fair and reasonable agreement. This type of mediation is called facilitative mediation. In some cases, evaluative mediation techniques can be used. That means that the mediator can offer a confidential evaluation of the strengths and weakness of the claims or defenses raised by the parties. A combination of these two techniques help parties key in on primary issues and interests, and then consider the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions based upon the mediator’s assessment of facts presented and the applicable law. Evaluative mediation requires confidence in the mediator’s knowledge of the legal principles involved, and all mediations find greater success when working with mediators demonstrating strong people skills – calm demeanor, good listeners, empathetic, skilled communicators, fair-minded. Richard Sievers brings these qualities to every mediation, as well as his extensive experience as a trial lawyer, and a unique exposure to all aspects of the law during his 21 years as a judge on the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Mediation saves money, gives the parties a far greater say in the outcomes, and produces the certainty that comes from the parties making their own agreement rather than having a judge or jury decide the outcome for them. Contact us now to learn more about the benefits of mediation.

Learn more about Richard Sievers.

Divorce

Ending a marriage is a difficult decision. Couples considering divorce should make sure they have exhausted all efforts at reconciliation before taking this significant step. There are many good marriage and family counselors ready to help strained relationships get back on a more positive track. We encourage every couple to make a serious effort to save their marriage before starting the divorce process. If the marriage truly cannot be saved, mediation may be the best way to minimize further emotional strain as couples consider how to divide their assets and debts. The goal is to reach an agreement most commonly called a Property Settlement Agreement, which addresses the division of marital property and other financial issues that may be relevant to the divorce. For example, some marriages may involve inherited funds and/or property, business interests, various types of retirement accounts or pensions, significant debts, or other more complex marital estate issues. Additionally, couples often wonder if alimony or spousal support is warranted, or what happens if one spouse files for bankruptcy. These and many other issues are best resolved by open discussion between the couple and an experienced mediator. It is especially helpful to have mediators who have practiced in the divorce area so they can bring their knowledge of the law to the table to assist couples in reaching consensus, and who can then draft a Property Settlement Agreement that accurately captures the agreement of the parties and is presented in a format acceptable to the court. If minor children are involved in a divorce, a Parenting Plan will also need to be developed. For more information on Parenting Plans, please see the information provided under the Parenting Act tab.

Richard Sievers has decades of experience in divorce litigation and therefore has the necessary background to help couples consider all aspects of their marital estate. Additionally, as an appellate judge, Richard has reviewed all of the issues that arise in divorce litigation and has written numerous opinions that have explored and established law in this area.

Parenting Act

In divorce, paternity or modification cases that involve minor children, Nebraska law requires compliance with the Nebraska Parenting Act. Pursuant to those laws, if parents cannot agree on custody and how to share parenting time and responsibilities, they must participate in mediation to try to resolve their differences before they can go to trial for a final decision by a judge. Mediation can help parents reasonably discuss important, but often difficult, issues such as how they can continue to co-parent their children in substantive ways from two separate households following divorce. Mediators help parents consider the children’s best interests when discussing each parent’s individual preferences on these matters. Parents will be engaged in discussions about how to share parenting time during the school year, summer, and for holidays, as well as what issues need to be considered when the children transition between homes. It is important for parents to determine their best means of communication with each other and with the children. Parents also need to agree on consistency between households so there is continuity of expectations for children regarding behavior, academics, and other activities and people that impact their children’s lives. When parents discuss and reach agreement on these matters, our mediators promptly prepare Parenting Plans that are ready for presentation to the court. A Parenting Plan will generally be accompanied by a Property Settlement Agreement that will include details of all financial aspects of the divorce, such as child support, alimony, division of personal and real property, daycare, health insurance, and so forth. For more information on the financial aspects of divorce, please see the information provided under the Divorce tab.

Nebraska law requires that mediation involving issues pertaining to children be done only by Parenting Act mediators who have been trained in accordance with Nebraska law, and approved by the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Office of Dispute Resolution. A list of approved Parenting Act mediators can be found at the Nebraska Supreme Court’s website.

Richard Sievers is a trained, approved, and experienced Parenting Act mediator. In addition to mediation experience, he has considerable experience as an attorney in family law and general civil litigation. As a judge, Richard has been involved in the appellate review of hundreds of trial court decisions involving child custody, parenting time, child support, and requests to remove minor children from Nebraska. Richard assists parents by facilitating honest and open communication that focuses on the children’s best interests, and guides parents to mediated agreements (Parenting Plans). Developing a Parenting Plan through mediation avoids the time-consuming, emotional, and expensive litigation process, and helps parents move forward in a more cooperative, amicable parenting relationship despite a divorce, paternity or modification action.