Michael Sallustio, JD
“Helping you resolve conflict on YOUR terms.”
Life is full of conflict.
Mediation can help with disputes concerning:
Family and Business Matters; Child Custody; Neighbor Issues; Workplace; School; Estates; and much more.
Whether you are simply at an impasse, or your situation has escalated to a legal battle, mediation is a sensible choice and can save you considerable time and money.
About Michael Sallustio
Michael Sallustio is a former attorney and entrepreneur. After practicing law for five years, he realized he didn’t like the adversarial nature of his role in the legal system. That’s when he pursued his passion for health and nutrition and owned and operated several related businesses. When he later became embroiled in a custody battle, he became inspired to become a mediator. He realized he could be of better service to people in conflict by helping them come together with a solution that satisfied both parties rather than advocating for one side resulting in a winner and a loser. He's committed to seeing all sides of a story and approaching conflict from a place of objectivity, helping people reach a common ground that was previously clouded by the emotion of being embroiled in a difficult situation. Michael also feels passionate about sparing people the enormous amount of time, energy, and expense that results from a bitter legal conflict.
While I mediate civil and family matters, my passion is families. My goal is to get parents to work more effectively together for the well-being and best interests of their child(ren). The research is clear: When the parents are in conflict, it is the child who suffers the most. Parental conflict is a source of trauma for the child, which later manifests in psychological and emotional challenges, dysfunctional relationships, poor self-esteem and self-reliance, higher suicide rates, and even greater risks of life-altering diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. I am also trained and experienced in working with families of children with special needs.
My mission at Arundel Mediation is simple: To provide a safe, open forum for having an honest, productive discussion about how to move beyond the roadblocks to a mutually beneficial resolution. Our team goes above and beyond to cater to your specific needs. For more information or general inquiries, get in touch today.
So, what IS Mediation, anyway?
Mediation is a voluntary process for resolving disputes between two or more parties by which an independent mediator assists them in reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution. A mediation session involves a reciprocal conversation about the dispute by the parties, as opposed to the formal presentation of evidence and witnesses that would take place in a trial, arbitration, or administrative hearing. In this sense, it is an informal process and, as such, what is discussed in the mediation is completely confidential and cannot be used as evidence in any subsequent legal or administrative arena.
What is a Mediator?
Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator is a neutral, third party and cannot render judgment or make decisions, or even force the parties to make a decision or accept a settlement they don’t want to accept. Accordingly, the mediator will not decide who is right or wrong or how the dispute should be resolved. The mediator cannot offer legal advice, but the parties may consult with their lawyers at any time during the process.
The mediator’s role is to assist the parties in having what can often be difficult conversations and to identify obstacles to a resolution and develop strategies for overcoming them. Oftentimes, just having a third party be witness to a difficult conversation can be enough to give each side a voice. This can have the effect of easing the tension that has been preventing a clear view of a resolution that is acceptable to each side. In this sense, a mediator is really a facilitator.
Conversely, a judge or arbitrator makes a decision for the parties which is typically satisfactory to one side and very unsatisfactory to the other. The problem with the latter scenario is that the result is unpredictable and completely beyond the control of the parties, which naturally perpetuates as opposed to resolving the conflict.
When there is a stalemate or impasse in a dispute, it is typically driven by the parties holding firm to a particular position. This is typically perpetuated by the history of animosity between the parties or because there is an imbalance of power in the relationship. A skilled mediator is able to identify the true needs and interests of each party which can help them see beyond their respective positions and clear the way for reaching a resolution that satisfies the needs and interests of both parties.
If one party does not feel safe or comfortable speaking up in the presence of the other about certain issues, the mediator may meet separately with each party. This is referred to as a caucus and the mediator’s obligation to maintain confidentiality still applies to these private discussions.
Sometimes, mediation is ordered by the court. Even in this case, the parties cannot be required to enter into an agreement involuntarily. If the parties were to reach a settlement, they still have the final say as to the terms of any agreement reached. Even with court-ordered mediations, any information shared or offers made by the parties cannot be revealed or admitted as evidence in court. Only the terms of the settlement reached, if there is one, may be read into the court record.
Cost of Mediation
The parties typically share the cost of mediation unless some other arrangement is mutually agreed upon between them.
Here are some additional reasons to consider mediation:
90% of lawsuits settle out of court, and most of those settlements occur on the scheduled day of trial, after months or years of preparation and expense. Some of this expense is necessary, but on the whole, an enormous amount of time and money is spent preparing for events that never occur.
The very initiation of a lawsuit, even if it is eventually settled prior to trial, gives rise to an adversarial mindset which can contribute to unnecessary acrimony and delay and, ultimately more cost.
The majority of disputes that are settled through mediation rarely end up in subsequent legal action.
Conversely, the majority of cases that end in trial find their way back in court. This is because one party (the losing party) is typically unsatisfied and bitter as a result of not being a part of the decision-making process.
The costs (in terms of time and money) associated with mediation are a fraction of the costs associated with a lawsuit involving attorneys, court fees and expert witnesses.
Oftentimes, disputes resolved through mediation have the additional benefit of mending the relationship, or at least diminishing the animosity between the parties.
The role of a Parenting Coordinator ("PC") is to minimize parental conflict that causes negative outcomes for their children. The PC is proactive and focused on helping parents work together for what is in the best interests of their child(ren). The PC utilizes mediation training, parent education, and dispute resolution skills to help the parents improve their communication and establish protocols, as well as implement the Parenting Plan or agreements already in place.
PC’s are typically mental health professionals or attorneys who undergo extensive training beyond that of a mediator. PC’s are either appointed by the court or hired by the parents via a Parenting Coordination Agreement for a specified term of one or two years. In this sense, the process is non-voluntary.
The main differences between a Parenting Coordinator and a Mediator are:
Parenting Coordination is a non-confidential process. This means that what is shared in a PC session is admissible in court. This encourages parents to be on their best behavior in order to work together to resolve their differences.
A Parenting Coordinator can also make decisions concerning minor issues in the event of an impasse between the parents. This means they have limited tie-breaking authority as mandated by the court order or the Parenting Coordination Agreement signed by the parents. This distinction can be invaluable for high-conflict parents because it can limit the necessity of engaging attorneys to resolve conflicts and keep the parties out of court. This translates to less financial costs as well as reduced animosity between the parents.
Parenting Coordination can be an incredibly valuable tool in helping parents minimize conflict, which, of course, means less traumatized, happier children.