What is KMS?
I have created Knobel Mediation Services, LLC, (KMS) which will provide attorneys and their clients with an array of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services [e.g., conducting mediation at a pre-commencement or post-commencement litigation stage, and/or conducting binding arbitration proceedings pursuant to a family court order authorizing arbitration, and/or conducting an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) process].
Are you prepared to travel throughout the State of South Carolina?
Yes, for the convenience of the client(s) and the attorney(s), I will travel to your city where I will make, coordinate, and confirm all the arrangements necessary to mediate or arbitrate the dispute. Or, in cases not involving ADR, I will meet with the attorney(s) and client(s) in preparation for settlement negotiations or trial. [Note: Your client will not be charged with any of my “travel time”; rather, the clients’ cost will be incurred only for the time spent in the actual participation of mediation or arbitration, or in a client’s case review.]
If a case is settled by the parties at the mediation conference, will you prepare the parties’ mediation agreement?
Yes. If requested by the attorneys, I have created what I consider a prototype settlement agreement which will enable me to create a detailed settlement agreement in the event there is a resolution of all these marital issues.
I would anticipate this process saving the attorney(s) a substantial amount of time in having a final settlement agreement executed by your client(s). I am prepared to distribute the mediation agreement to the attorney(s) and client(s) in one of several ways: (a) print out the agreement for the client(s) and attorney(s), or (b) e-mail the mediation agreement to each attorney for your review and further modification, if necessary.
Will you serve as an arbitrator?
Yes. As noted above, I am prepared to arbitrate your case in accordance with the South Carolina Uniform Arbitration Act and the Court-Annexed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Rules. Once the parties’ attorneys have informed me they wish to have me arbitrate their clients’ case, I will prepare and forward to the attorneys a proposed “Agreement to Arbitrate and Order”. Once approved by the attorneys and their clients, I will also sign the order, as the selected arbitrator, and immediately forward it to the Family Court in your circuit for its approval by the judge.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Using ADR in mediation involves a private, confidential decision-making process in which an impartial facilitator – the mediator or neutral – assists the disputing parties in a structured negotiation.
Using ADR in arbitration involves the parties making their presentations and arguments to a third party neutral who renders a decision, which may be binding or non-binding on the parties, depending upon their agreement. Typically, arbitration is less formal than a court proceeding and is most often used in a private setting.
Why, and when, would you want to use mediation?
Is it informal.
It is confidential.
It emphasizes self-determination by the parties.
It emphasizes bringing your marital litigation to a successful conclusion and on your terms.
It is voluntary.
It is non-binding on the parties.
For cases already filed in the family courts, it offers the possibility of an earlier resolution of the case.
Why, and when, would you want to use arbitration?
It is voluntary and governed by an agreement of the parties.
It is confidential.
It may be much less expensive to the parties than having the case ultimately tried by the family court judge.
It can be scheduled by the parties or by their attorneys, thus providing greater and more efficient scheduling flexibility.
Cases can be resolved quickly.
The parties control the process and can control the procedure.
The parties select the decision maker – the arbitrator.
Can the mediator be the attorney for one or both parties?
No. The mediator is a complete neutral in the process, and his role is to assist the parties in reaching a settlement or resolution of their dispute.
Will the mediator give advice, make decisions, tell parties what to do?
Although the mediator, as the neutral, may make suggestions to both or all parties to facilitate the parties’ progress in resolving their dispute, the mediator will not give advice to, or make the decisions for, the parties.
How long does mediation take?
The simple, and correct, answer is that mediation is a process intended to assist the parties in the resolution of their dispute. All cases presented for mediation are important to the parties and to the mediator, and a time deadline creates an artificial pressure on the process which is, for the most part, not helpful to the parties. The parties, in good faith, should always try and maintain patience with this process in working towards a solution and, ultimately, a successful resolution of their case.
What is the cost of mediation?
Unless the mediator’s fees are established and set by a family court order, then my fee for the mediation conference will be billed at a total one-time fee of $500.00 per party, plus the ADR-approved mileage (this “mileage rate” is adjusted annually and is based on the IRS-approved business mileage rate as of January 1 of each year) regardless of the length of time involved in completing the initial mediation conference. The “one-time” mediation fee shall be due and payable prior to the start/beginning of the mediation conference, and the attorneys for the parties shall be required to give assurances to this mediator that this fee shall be paid at the scheduled mediation. The mediation conference shall not begin until all named parties have paid their mediation fees in full. [Important note: if the case is fully resolved at mediation and the attorneys for the parties request that I prepare a draft of the final settlement agreement, I will not charge for this additional service to the parties.]
My one-time fee includes the time incurred by me for any pre-mediation preparation (e.g., scheduling the mediation conference, review of the mediation materials, pre-mediation telephone conferences with the attorneys and, if applicable, the Guardian ad Litem).
Are there any confidentiality requirements?
Pursuant to Article V, §4 of the South Carolina Constitution, Rule 8(a) of the South Carolina Court-Annexed Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules, “communications during a mediation settlement conference shall be confidential. Additionally, the parties, their attorneys and any other person present must execute an Agreement to Mediate that protects the confidentiality of the process. To that end, the parties and any other person present shall maintain the confidentiality of the mediation and shall not rely on, or introduce as evidence in any arbitral, judicial or other proceeding, any oral or written communications having occurred in a mediation proceeding, including, but not limited to:
Views expressed or suggestions made by another party or any other person present with respect to a possible settlement of the dispute;
Admissions made in the course of the mediation proceeding by another party or any other person present;
Proposals made or views expressed by the mediator;
The fact that another party had or had not indicated willingness to accept a proposal for settlement made by the mediator; or
All records, reports or other documents created solely for use in the mediation.
What is “Family Court Litigation Support Services”?
I have created a Litigation Support Service for my fellow family law attorneys which will creatively, effectively and efficiently assist them in formulating their family court-related litigation strategies and planning, beginning with the client’s earliest, pre-hearing stages and continuing throughout all of their subsequent litigation stages.
I have established “Family Court Litigation Support Services” (FCLSS), which, as stated, should provide my fellow family law attorneys throughout South Carolina with a variety of family law-based services, the nature, duration and extent of which will remain fully controlled by those attorneys who elect to engage my services.
What is the cost for your FCLSS services?
My current rate for my FCLSS services is $125.00 per hour.
What is “Early Neutral Evaluation”?
On the family court side, early neutral evaluation (ENE) provides party-litigants and their attorneys with a process for “test-driving” their respective positions before a selected ENE “evaluator” and to receive, among other things, “in a family court case…the likely result of a trial of all issues”. The ENE process is also an ADR hybrid which can combine certain elements both of mediation (for example, private caucusing with the parties, confidentiality, informal presentations, settlement objectives) and non-binding arbitration (e.g., the parties and attorneys shall receive a “non-binding evaluation of the matters in controversy by an evaluator”…in other words, an evaluation which measures and grades the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case).
We have created a professional group comprised solely of retired South Carolina Family Court judges. If you choose to engage our services, then we will provide you with two members of our group who, together in tandem, will meet with your client(s) and you in an intensive work session which will be structured to provide you with ab analysis, objectives, and anticipated results.