What is Mediation?
Mediation can be used to help people settle many types of cases and issues. These include divorces, prenuptial agreements, change in conservatorship, squabbles with neighbors and even disputes between a consumer and a business.
In family mediation, parties have the ability and freedom to share their viewpoints in a safe environment. Family law mediation is, in many cases, a voluntary process where a couple meets with a neutral third party (mediator) to address and resolve the issues and concerns of each party. The mediator does not represent or advocate for either party and does not provide legal advice.
The mediator will help the couple in exploring and examining different options. The decision, however, is up to both parties. Mediation is centered on the clients in a process to ease couples to reach out-of-court agreements without the financial and emotional effects of being in court.
Mediation is common in divorce and child rearing cases, but also may be used in areas such as pre- or post-nuptial agreements and paternity matters. Couples with minimal conflict or relatively positive communication may choose mediation as an easier way to navigate and resolve family law issues.
Couples that have more significant conflict or who find communication with the other party a struggle may find mediation helpful as a way to solve problems, reduce conflict, and even break an impasse. Mediators can assist the parties in communicating and negotiating in a productive and efficient manner.
Mediators are usually privately selected and retained by the parties, though courts can order parties to participate in mediation. Mediation can occur with parties who are represented by an attorney and other parties are pro-bono. The mediator will treat the parties equally regardless of whether one or both parties are represented by an attorney.
Mediators have specialized training in dispute resolution approaches and techniques. Mediators use their skills to help to open and improve communication between the parties to assist them in resolving issues.
Communications in mediation cannot be used against a party if there is subsequent litigation, which encourages open communication in the process. The goal of family law mediation is to assist the parties in creating their self-created agreements to meet both their needs as well as the needs of their children.
Even if your mediator gives you suggestions, or opinions, you always have the right to disregard those suggestions. This includes a decision not to accept the offer or even not settle at all. The mediation is entirely in the parties' hands.
For more information, please refer to the following resource provided by The American Bar Association
*Reprinted by permission of the American Bar Association