Ellice Halpern, J.D.
Little Falls Mediation offers divorce, family and community mediation services, as well as dispute resolution in workplace, non-profit, business and civil matters. Our mission is to provide a caring, empathetic environment where clients feel comfortable, safe and empowered in discussing and resolving conflict.
Must a divorcing couple get along fairly well, relatively speaking, to succeed at mediation?
No, but they both should be willing to give mediation a sincere effort. During a first meeting, we discuss what mediation is. Mediation empowers the parties to communicate with each other with the help of a neutral mediator, to collaboratively resolve issues and to make decisions regarding their family together. In litigation, the parties would each retain a lawyer and the lawyers would talk. In a trial, the parties would be handing over a series of important decisions to a judge. I teach strategies and tools that facilitate the communication process. For example, I tell the parties that listening to each other does not mean agreement, and that just because there are different perspectives doesn’t mean one person is lying or wrong.
Mediation is confidential. It preserves the dignity of the family. Each party is heard, and emotions are always validated. If children are involved, the parents benefit from having new communication skills that allow for easier negotiation with regard to creating a parenting plan and sharing costs.
Besides divorce settlements, what other kinds of conflicts are mediated?
Just about any type of dispute can be handled through mediation. I do quite a bit of business and civil mediation. These cases include employer/employee disagreements, landlord/tenant disputes, disputes between contractors and homeowners, and even conflicts between business partners. Mediation prevents escalation of a conflict, gives the parties control over the process and outcome, maintains confidentiality, preserves business relationships and is less expensive than litigation.