Law Offices Of Phillips & Gemignani

Concentrating in Family Law.

Mediation & Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

Mediation is a process in which a neutral party assists the participants in arriving at an agreement, which is based upon their individual interests and needs. The process is voluntary and the decision to enter into an agreement is not imposed upon the participants.

What is the difference between negotiations centered around “interest and needs” vs. negotiations which are centered around “positions”?

Interest-based negotiation allows a party to consider and articulate what it is they want to achieve and why they want to achieve it. These negotiations build upon a person’s understanding of both their goals and objectives as well as the other person’s goals and objectives. In a process based upon interest-based negotiation, people openly discuss what they want to achieve and why. In this process each party “gives and gets.”

Positional negotiation is based upon extremes – the line in the sand that neither party will cross over. The solution involves inching from extremes to a compromise position, which is not based upon interest or need, but is rather a compromise based upon the process. In positional negotiation, a resolution may be achieved but the interests of the parties may never actually be addressed. Therefore, there is a likelihood that the agreement will be repudiated at a later time.

What is the difference between “facilitative” and “ evaluative” mediation?

Facilitative mediation describes the process in which the mediator manages the dispute allowing the parties to come to a solution without external intervention, opinion or reference to an artificial standard. In this type of mediation, process develops all of the solutions.

Evaluative mediation describes a process in which the mediator helps the parties to identify their needs and interests, then provides external input in an effort to direct the parties to a solution.

Why use mediation as opposed to simply having the judge decide the matter?

Mediation allows you to reach an agreement which meets your needs and your interests. A judicial decision will result in a resolution but it may not meet any of your interests or your needs. It will simply produce an outcome to your matter, whether you like the outcome or not. Reaching an agreement will allow you to know and plan for your future – to retain some control in the outcome that will impact your life.

“The devil you know is better than the devil you do not.”

Why would I use Phillips & Gemignani to mediate my divorce?

Each of the attorneys at Phillips & Gemignani is a certified family law mediator and each has extensive experience in resolving matrimonial disputes outside of the courtroom through mediation techniques.

Charles Phillips

Mr. Phillips has 24 years of experience mediating property division, child placement disputes, alimony/maintenance and divorce tax problems. Mr. Phillips’ has concentrated in matrimonial matters for the past 34 years. Mr. Phillips started one of the first divorce mediation businesses in the State of Wisconsin in 1986. It began at the time when mediation was new and the process was fearful to lawyers and clients alike.

Mr. Phillips maintains the flexibility and intellectual nimbleness to provide either facilitative or evaluative mediation work coupled with the skill to help the parties identify and articulate their interests and needs. Mr. Phillips believes that with the proper management of a dispute, the parties will achieve “a sudden outburst of reason” and achieve resolution.

Cheryl Gemignani

Ms. Gemignani has been practicing family law for the past 30 years.  She was one of the founding members of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin and firmly believes that individuals should be in charge of their own decisions and that generating flexible options for each family provides the best outcomes for success going forward.  She is committed to reaching resolutions acceptable to all, which preserve the family’s positive relationships.

Geoff Seufert

Frequently appointed by the Court to resolve high-conflict cases as a Special Master, Guardian ad litem, or Parent Coordinator, Mr. Seufert believes that alternative dispute resolution models are a worthwhile means toward achieving a solution for families in conflict.  As a private mediator, Mr. Seufert offers an affordable alternative to litigation.  He is thorough, and works with both parties to explore all scenarios, emphasizing goals over positions, with the intent of discovering an acceptable “win-win” solution for all.

Other alternative dispute resolution processes provided by Mr. Phillips:


This is a process in which Mr. Phillips serves as the finder of fact. Evidence is presented in an agreed-upon manner in a manner similar to that as would occur in the trial. The advantage to this process is that you can be assured the arbiter has 34 years of experience handling domestic relations matters. Based upon the current state of the judiciary, judges rotate every three years and they are not necessarily experts in any particular area of the law. In fact, many who are assigned to family court have never handled a divorce or other domestic relations proceeding in their entire life before they take the bench!

Early Issue Identification

This is a process in which both parties and their lawyers make a presentation of the disputed set of facts to the evaluator. The evaluator reacts to the facts by providing a detailed evaluation to the parties privately. This process helps parties to determine in the early stages of their case whether or not a legal position is supported by evidence and whether or not it has sufficient efficacy to warrant the economic expenditure. It seeks to avoid the specter of parties becoming bogged down in tenuous positions which become more and more difficult to modify as funds are expended and time goes on.