LEGAL SELF HELP & RESOURCES

 

FAMILY LAW MEDIATION

 

*813-240-3237     *425 S. Orleans Ave. Tampa, FL 33606      *ElizabethMahaney@msn.com

 

South Tampa Therapy & Mediation

MEDIATION SERVICES

Constructive - Confidential - Sensible - Cost-effective - Forward-Thinking - Peaceful - Dignified => RESOLUTIONS

Information About Mediation:

As your mediator, we will be:

Neutral Unbiased Impartial =Simply help guide you through exploring and identifying ways to resolve your current issues.

Non-judgmental. It is not our jobs to determine who is right or who is wrong and we don’t take sides.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process that attempts to help the parties reach an agreement regarding all differences of opinion between them about legal issues by utilizing the services of a neutral mediator.

Basically, how the mediation process works is:

You will have control over how you would like to handle the process. We are very flexible and

will work to accommodate all involved in order to meet your needs in the most comfortable way

possible.

We will help you identify issues, interests, and needs & brainstorm ideas and possible solutions. We

tend to think outside the box when situations are difficult.

We will then evaluate proposals and hopefully reach a solution that all involved can live with. The end

result will be reduced to writing and bring some closure to the situation.

Mediation is one of the first courses of action in any family law case and, if successful, can yield the most satisfactory results. Because many people are less familiar with the process of mediation than they are with a divorce, we have reviewed below some of the basics related to mediation.

The Advantage To Having CO-MEDIATORS…

Elizabeth, has a network of professionals who have been colleagues for long enough to know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are. Because of this, during mediation, absolutely nothing will be overlooked and a Final Mediation Settlement Agreement will be drafted as the actual mediation is taking place. Additionally, as a mental health counselor you can trust that even though Elizabeth is not your therapist she will handle your concerns with a great deal of compassion and understanding. Lastly, litigation is expensive and mediation can help ease the financial burden, which is why South Tampa Therapy & Mediation feels strongly about providing co-mediation services as if only one person was mediating your case in terms of hourly rate. You will get a team of mediators for the price of one!

What are the advantages of mediation?

The Legal Proceeding Is Less Costly: Settling a case in mediation is usually less costly since disputes resolved in court usually involve the investment of more money in attorneys fees and overall costs.

More Satisfying Result: Clients usually find it far more satisfying to decide for themselves which parent will have custody, the visitation schedule of the non-custodial parent, the amount of child and spousal support, and the division of their property and debts rather than to permit a Judge to make these decisions for them.

What happens if the parties agree to settle at mediation?

The mediator prepares a written Agreement that is signed by both parties. That agreement can then be presented to the Judge assigned the case so that a Final Judgment in strict accordance with the Agreement can then be entered.

Can a mediator force a party to agree to anything?

No!

Is mediation required in divorce and modification cases?

Yes! The Florida Rules of Family Law Procedure require the parties to go to mediation both before temporary relief can be granted and before a final hearing (trial) can be held in the case. The Judge has the power to waive the mediation requirements but is generally reluctant to do so unless there are special or unusual circumstances.

Helpful Resources:

www.IRS.gov

www.ZILLOW.com

www.FLCOURTS.org

www.FLJUD13.org

www.MEDIATE.com

Legal Self-Help & Research

The premier self-help law site is run by Nolo Press, a company dedicated for the past 28 years to helping individuals navigate the sometimes murky waters of the law. Find do-it-yourself kits for things such as divorce and estate planning, and a comprehensive site on many topics. Nolo press is known for its accuracy, and its products are typically very trustworthy.

A huge database of legal topics to help with your research can be found at Cornell Law School's great legal research site. They also have direct links to the law of each of the 50 states.

A comprehensive site with links to attorney and legal-research-oriented topics is All Law.com, www.alllaw.com

Check out your lawyer at www.lawyers.com, a site sponsored by Martindale Hubbell, the nation's leading directory of lawyers. Attorneys are listed by specialty and geographic area, among other choices. Because Martindale is a paid subscription service, however, many smaller firms aren't listed.

Computerized Databases

You can use computerized databases such as Lexis and Westlaw (available online, for a fee). Some libraries may offer this service as well as CD Roms such as LawDesk to search the names of lawyers, judges, and witnesses. Simply type the person's name into the search field, and see if their name appears in any cases. You can then read that judge's decisions, or cases in which the attorney was involved.

Visit Law Guru for consumer friendly articles about all areas of the law, including divorce.

Useful Divorce Websites

The website for Diana's book www.yourdivorceadvisor.com includes 10-tips about 10 different divorce subjects, a quick practical guide to making the best decisions for your divorce.

DivorceNet® is the Internet's largest divorce resource, offering state-specific articles, an online community and a nationwide directory of divorce lawyers, mediators and financial professionals.

Divorce Headquarters is a source for divorce issues including alimony, child support, child custody, visitation, separation agreements, financial, divorce attorneys, divorce mediators, divorce services, free child support calculator, and more.

Divorce Central offers help, support, and information, and the opportunity to communicate with others who are in various stages of decision-making, mourning, mediating, settling, litigating, and just plain "dealing" with divorce.

Divorce Care provides you with resources to help you deal with the pain and emotions of a divorce. It offers information about local support groups and advice on looking forward and rebuilding your life.

Divorce Info is a very comprehensive site with a lot of information on divorce in very simple language. This site covers the legal and emotional aspects of divorce. Because the website has a lot of information, I found that going to the site map.

Divorce Directory offers a broad range of national and local based services on the web. This site also includes informative statistics and articles on divorce.

Divorce Source gives resources, fee based divorce tools, and state based information.

Support Scan offers a calculation program on-line to calculate child and temporary spousal support. ($15.00 for the first three calculations and $5.00 each after that). It creates reports you can view or print to predict proper levels of support. It is certified by the California Judicial Council and is admissible in all California family law courts.

Domestic Violence

The American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence has developed two brochures on developing a safety plan one for adults, and one for children.

Asset Searches

Many asset searches charge a fee for their services. Be sure to inquire about the fees prior to utilizing such services. Because online businesses are difficult to monitor, be very wary. Neither the authors nor the publisher of Your Divorce Advisor endorse or encourage the use of such services. If you decide to use a service and would like to provide feedback (positive or negative), we'd love to include it on our site. If you have other suggestions for sites you've used, we'd love to hear them. E-mail us at ElizabethMahaney@msn.com.

That said, the most reputable and reasonably priced service around seems to be Choice Point, which has access to many public records databases. Contact them on the web or phone (888) 333-3365.

Public Records Databases

Public records database search charges pay-as-you-go.

www.1800ussearch.com offers a background-oriented public records search (such as where someone's lived, and whether they lived with someone else) for $20-$40

Criminal Records database search: costs $25-$45

You can also try public records database, asset, and people searches through a number of other sites

www.freepublicrecords.com 
www.firstinc.com 
www.recordsbureau.com 
www.peoplefinders.com 
www.intelius.com

You can find the name and address of the person behind the phone number with online reverse telephone directories, including:

www.reversephonedirectory.com

 

Financial Information

Credit Cards:

You will want to double check that all your joint credit card accounts are closed, and for $50 www.myfico.com will give you a credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies along with tips on how to improve your credit score.    

You’ll also want to check www.myfico.com before you apply for a loan. 

 

Credit Reports:

Credit Reports
Experian, NCAC,
PO Box 2106
Allen, TX 75013-2106
(800) 397-3742
www.experian.com

Trans Union
PO Box 403
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
(800) 916-8800
(800) 888-4213
www.transunion.com

Equifax
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 685-1111
www.equifax.com

Helpful Financial Calculators: 
Both of the websites listed below have various online calculators to help you compute mortgages, auto loans, credit, retirement, and savings. 
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/calculators/calculator.htm
http://www.dinkytown.net/

Financial Planners: 
Your divorce financial settlement needs to be more than 50/50 or fair according to the law.  It needs to be the best decision for you and your future family, taking into consideration investment priorities as well.  We at Peace Talks suggest that you see an accountant or financial planner as part of your divorce.  
We can refer you to a local accountant or financial planner by calling our office at (310) 301-2100

The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts also has referrals of certified analysts that you can look for by zip code, city, or state. 

Another source for finding a financial planner would be through the Association of Divorce Financial Planners website.  Their members practice in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Retirement Plans or 401(k): 
Pension Appraisers is a national pension appraisal and Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) drafting firm. For a reasonable cost, they can do a pension appraisal or draft your QDRO paperwork. Diana has been using them since 1988, and they have always been reliable. 

Asset Searches: 
Many asset searches charge a fee for their services. Be sure to inquire about the fees prior to utilizing such services. Because online businesses are difficult to monitor, be very wary. Neither the authors nor the publisher of Your Divorce Advisor endorse or encourage the use of such services. If you decide to use a service and would like to provide feedback (positive or negative), we'd love to include it on our site. If you have other suggestions for sites you've used, we'd love to hear them. E-mail us at ElizabethMahaney@msn.com.
That said, the most reputable and reasonably priced service around seems to be Choice Point, which has access to many public records databases. Contact them on the web or phone (888) 333-3365

Government Information: 
Social Security Administration: www.ssa.gov
IRS Internet Address: www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/cover.html

Estate Planning: 
South Tampa Therapy & Mediation can handle your estate planning needs. Get a referral to a qualified estate planning lawyer at the official web site of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Double check your pick at Lawyers.com to see if she or he is listed with Martindale Hubbell, the leading publisher of legal directories. Lawyers are listed by geographical area and specialty.

Prepare for your appointment with this estate planner by using the forms and tips on Rushforth.net.

Don't forget Nolo Press's do-it-yourself estate planning kits and information.

 

Insurance 

Health Insurance: If you have health insurance through your spouse’s employer, you’ll be eligible to stay on that coverage at your own expense (or your spouse’s expense) for up to 35 months through COBRA coverage. The problem is that COBRA coverage is typically very expensive You may want to shop around for health insurance before finalizing your divorce. Our office can recommend you to an insurance broker if you’ll give us a call. You can also check www.healthinsurancefinders.com, a web site that helps people shop for health insurance

Life Insurance: We usually suggest that both parents have life insurance If you don’t have children, you will want to have life insurance insuring your spouse’s life as long as you have intertwined finances, like a joint home mortgage or you’re paying or owe spousal support or alimony.

We often recommend that clients consider 20 year level term coverage Term coverage is less expensive than Whole Life policies, and it doesn’t accrue a cash value, but it still provides a death benefit in the event of your untimely demise. “Level premium” insurance offers a fixed rate for a set period of time (e.g., 20 years). This insures that the cost of the policy won’t rise, even if you become sick or uninsurable later on.

You can get a quote online at www.accuquote.com and on numerous other web sites as well as through insurance brokers. Amica Life Insurance has also recently dropped their rates for level term insurance. You can contact them at www.amica.com or (800) 234-5433

 

Divorce & Parenting Support

Therapists
Here at South Tampa Therapy & Mediation, we can offer both mediation and counseling. 813-240-3237 ElizabethMahaney@gmail.com

Divorce Support Groups
Divorce support groups have been growing in popularity.  We offer several different types of therapeutic support groups depending on our clients unique needs. They are also often offered at your local church or community center.  

Parenting Classes/Groups
South Tampa Therapy & Mediation offers parenting classes, sessions, and groups with the goal of promoting parenting skills and increasing the joys of parenting.

You may want to go to www.gocitykids.com, which provides various resources for parents and children in specific areas.  

www.breakthroughparenting.com - The Breakthrough Parenting program equips parents with the tools to effectively communicate and create healthy relationships with their children.   

www.uptoparents.org - This organization has created an online interactive game for parents to take a timeout from their conflict to consider 100 Commitments they could make to their children in periods of conflict and stress.  Children have critical needs during times of high stress, such as a divorce.  Parents can effectively meet those needs when they arm themselves with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect their children.   On this site, the “life jackets” section has great articles for parents with children. 

Domestic Violence
The American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence has developed two brochures on developing a safety plan, one for adults, and one for children.