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For the past twenty years, mediation has been the preferred method for divorcing parties to settle their property and support disputes. Charles M. Riffle, a graduate of an American Bar Association-sponsored mediation program, has acted as a mediator of dissolution of marriage matters for the past fifteen years. He and other lawyers in the firm also act as reviewing lawyers for parties who seek the services of a mediator to assist them in reaching an agreement on how to divide their property, and what support to pay.

In the mediation model, the parties agree upon a single mediator to assist them. The mediator meets with both parties, generally prepares all the necessary court documents to conclude the dissolution of marriage action, and assists the parties in reaching a fair settlement of their differences. Then each party takes the proposed agreement to his or her reviewing attorney, who advises each party of his or her rights under the proposed agreement. After both parties have consulted individually with their respective reviewing lawyers, they sign the agreement, and the mediator completes all the court pleadings needed to finalize the dissolution of their marriage.

Mediation has many benefits. It has proven to be less expensive than the "normal" approach of litigation. The parties work toward a common goal, thereby reducing the usual tensions associated with a dissolution of marriage. The mediator can pull together outside resources like appraisers and psychologists to help the parties reach an agreement on disputed matters. The rights of each party are protected because each party has his or her own reviewing attorney who can bring perspective to the final agreement. Finally, when children are involved, mediation lessens tensions and allows the parties to focus on the best interests of their children.

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