Mediation, The First Step
Mediation is part and parcel of family law. It is required in almost every divorce or custody case, and many jurisdictions are now ordering mediation in domestic relations cases before a hearing for final orders will even be scheduled.
So what is mediation? Mediation is a process that brings the parties together in a safe, confidential environment. A mediator is someone who acts as a neutral third party who helps the parties address the issues, and helps create a more open dialogue without making a final decision. Mediators meet with both sides, and get a sense of what each side wants and helps the parties reach some middle ground. Because the mediator is not a judge, they cannot make a decision or tell you what to do, but they can help you reach agreements, and can come up with unique solutions specific to your situation.
What are the benefits of mediation?
- It’s cost-effective. Litigation is a timely and expensive process. Going to trial requires a lot of preparation. Mediation allows you to address the issues without the emotional and time-consuming expense.
- You control the outcome. Mediators can’t make decisions for you. You (and your attorney) get to choose which topics you want to discuss, and what areas you want to settle. Mediation also allows you to decide the terms of your agreements rather than having a judge tell you what to do.
- It’s more personal. In mediation, you get to speak directly with the mediator, so that they know exactly what you want, and your concerns. The mediator then tries to propose resolutions that incorporates your wishes along with the other sides’.
- It’s faster. Mediation can be set at any time during the divorce process. You don’t have to wait weeks (or months!) for your next court date.
- It’s confidential. Communications, documents, and notes that you use is mediation, stay in mediation. Mediation is private and only the parties are present. Conversations you and/or your attorney have with the mediator are privileged and confidential. In Court, you are in front of a judge, a clerk and possibly, the public.
- It’s less adversarial. A mediator’s job is to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement and addresses the needs of everyone involved without any additional bias. In a trial, you and your attorney are trying to put your best face forward, and that often means making the other side look bad. Mediation instead allows for more communications and cooperation, and less conflict.
- It’s unique to you. Mediators can be creative when coming up with solutions that will work for you and our family and can result in more in-depth agreements.
- It’s low risk. You can’t lose mediation. If an agreement can’t be reached, parties can still pursue any legal remedies available including trial.
Divorce is already a stressful, and emotional situation. Mediation can be a less demanding alternative to the pressure of the courthouse, and the strain of going to trial.