Mediation is an effective, non-adversarial and confidential method of resolving problems within families. Mediators are neutral third parties trained in helping people resolve their conflicts privately and quickly. Mediators allow the parties to identify those issues that concern them and to make their own decisions about how to resolve their disputes. The whole family benefits because mediation encourages communication and cooperation and reduces tension. Mediation is almost always less expensive than litigation.
The law is an adversary process and "domestic relations" law is probably the most volatile area of practice. It is the area that touches people (particularly children) most directly and personally. Ms. Edwards believes that going to court should be a last resort and used only when no other resolution is reasonably available.
Mediation primarily addresses the needs and concerns of the participants and focuses less on "rights" (perceived or actual). Lawyers usually address rights and social workers are more concerned about needs. Ms. Edwards is well suited, by virtue of her background in both social work and law, to be a mediator. She began her mediation practice with an Academy of Family Mediators approved basic mediation course in 1993. Since then she has participated in numerous advanced training courses, seminars and conferences on custody, step-families, property division, alimony, support, elder-care, court programs, domestic violence, forgiveness, and many other related issues.
She most commonly mediates traditional property division, support and alimony, custody, step-family and elder-care matters, including married couples' disputes over their wills.
Ms. Edwards is the Chair of the ACR Family Section of the Association for Conflict Resolution (click here for more information on the ACR). In 1997 she earned Practitioner Member status in the Academy of Family Mediators (now merged into ACR). She is an Advanced Practitioner/Educator Member of ACR.
She is a member of the Family Law Sections of the Chester and Philadelphia County and the Pennsylvania Bar Associations. She is a member of the Mediation Section of the Chester County Bar Association and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the PBA.
Ms. Edwards joined with other attorney-mediators in 1998 to form MediationWorks. MediationWorks is dedicated to promoting high standards for mediators and to helping others find responsible means to resolve their disputes fairly while maintaining dignity and respect for all concerned. MediationWorks has been appointed to certify the mediators associated with the Chester County Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas custody mediation program.
Ms. Edwards has encouraged mediation in her columns in both the Suburban and Wayne Times and the Route 202 Review. Along with the other members of MediationWorks she has conducted mediation seminars for the public and for other professionals. She has been an ethics/mediation panelist for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section's semi-annual conference. She has frequently conducted seminars in mediation for the Hahnemann/ Allegheny University Family Therapy post-graduate degree programs. She has been a frequent mediation panelist for continuing education seminars offered for attorneys and mental health professionals as well.
Ms. Edwards was honored by being selected to be an attorney-partner for the kick-off year of Pennsylvania's ProjectPEACE. That program is co-sponsored by Pennsylvania's Attorney General's office and the PBA and is designed to reduce conflict by establishing peer mediation in elementary schools throughout the Commonwealth. She has taught conflict resolution in elementary schools individually and along with the other members of MediationWorks and trained peer mediators in elementary schools.