Better Outcomes for Married Couples at the Family Mediation Center
The Tenant-Landlord Mediation Program is only one effort in Milwaukee at reaching better outcomes through the avoidance of adversarial courtroom proceedings. Last year, the family law attorney Sue Hansen and her partner, Greg Hildebrand, founded the Family Mediation Center to help couples who wanted to get divorced without some of the acrimony that can result when each side hires a lawyer.
Hansen said the inspiration for the center came in part from statistics showing that nearly 70% of the people who are seeking a divorce are trying to get one without any legal help whatsoever. She said couples who head down that route may think they are going to save money; they are also setting themselves up for a load of unintended consequences.
“And then, six months later, they are back in court, arguing over things that didn’t go right the first time,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the Family Mediation Center makes use not just of lawyers who have been trained in mediation, but also family and child psychologists and financial specialists. Mediation starts with a two-hour session for $250; from there, participants can choose from a menu of legal services, allowing them to pay for only what they need or can afford.
“I am a believer [that] the parties need to pay something,” Hansen said. “It gives them an investment in the process—the sense of responsibility that each person needs to be effective.”