LIKE MOST PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN THROUGH A DIVORCE, Roseann Vanella experienced a wide range of emotions along the way, from despair to stress to loneliness. There were many times throughout the process when she didn’t even recognize herself.
Eventually she was able to regain her footing and see her journey come to a satisfying conclusion, and mediation was a major reason why. The benefits it brought to her divorce inspired her to enter the field herself and help others as a Professional Mediator.
“When people come to me and are so distraught, I always tell them the same story,” Vanella says. “I remember driving home from work one day when I was going through my divorce and just crying so hard that I had to pull over to the side of the road. I actually had the thought in my head that I was never going to smile again. But you come out on the other side, and after going through a process like mediation, you’re better for it.
“As mediators, we don’t spark the conflict. We keep the atmosphere in the room calm and we help them reasonably come to an agreement so they can move forward with their lives.”
Vanella and Professional Mediator Carmela DeNicola are the co-founders of Advanced Mediation Solutions (AMS), the only full-service practice in the region exclusively dedicated to mediation. For more than a decade, the firm has guided clients through divorce and other disputes in a collaborative and peaceful manner.
There has been an upswing in the number of divorces being resolved through mediation because it gives both parties control over the outcome, while saving them time and money com- pared to a litigated divorce.
“Mediation really allows you to tailor the agreement specifically to that family,” Vanella says. “We’ve been mediating for over 10 years now and we’ve never done two of the same agreement. Every family is different, every situation is different and the values people put on certain things are different.”
“It is certainly not one size fits all,” agrees DeNicola.
From high net worth individuals to parents of special needs children, AMS can handle the unique circumstances of each case and help both parties focus on the important issues. They help their clients keep their eyes on the big picture, addressing all factors of divorce including parenting agreements, spousal support, child support, equitable distribution and even future concerns like education costs or the introduction of a new significant other.
The average divorce case the firm mediates takes between two to three months over the course of four to six sessions. Vanella and DeNicola are supportive from start to finish, having earned a reputation for their warm, down-to-earth approach.
“People get a sense of comfort here,” Vanella says. “When they first come in, they’re almost always nervous, but by the second session you can really tell they are relaxed, they’re letting their guard down and they understand that this is a collaborative and cooperative process where every- one has a say and everyone’s concerns are being talked about.”
Since both Vanella and DeNicola have years of experience as executives at Fortune 100 companies, and have been entrepreneurs and business owners themselves even before AMS, they are effective in complex cases. DeNicola handles the bulk of the practice’s business disputes as well.
They will also bring in neutral third-party experts for issues such as business valuation or tax planning.
“As mediators, first and foremost we have to educate the clients not only on the decisions they have to make, but how they can go about making those decisions,” Vanella says. “Sometimes there’s a need for creativity and flexibility, and that’s where mediation is really beneficial. We will think outside the box and help clients come to agreements on things they would typically have a hard time doing.”
Creativity has especially been key during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families are dealing with stressful situations. AMS continues to be there for them with virtual meetings at all times of the day.
“We have couples who had already been divorced and had agreements in place that need modifications because of the COVID situation,” DeNicola says. “Another scenario is they’re not divorced yet, but they want to get divorced and they need us to develop a transition plan. They also want the ability to renegotiate that freely once things go back to whatever the new normal is going to be.”
Whatever the situation, when Vanella and DeNicola can educate their clients and help them make informed decisions, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. With both having gone through divorces themselves, they know how important it is for people to have a neutral and professional guiding light through the process.
“When clients are at the end of a divorce, they will actually hug us and thank us for helping them, and that is worth everything,” Vanella says. “It is a tremendous feeling knowing their kids are going to have parents who know how to negotiate with each other, know how to work together and have a plan. These kids can grow up to be productive human beings because their parents have set an example for them in how to deal with a conflict.”
Advanced Mediation Solutions
75 N. Haddon Ave. | Haddonfield
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (May 2020).
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