What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) that is often used in the divorce process. The goal of mediation is to create an agreement that is fair to all parties. During a divorce case, this agreement is called a “Separation Agreement”, and it must resolve all issues, including custody, division of assets, and spousal support.
Mediation provides a safe environment for negotiation because the mediator can control and direct the communications. In this fashion, unproductive discussions can be avoided and concessions or proposals will be communicated only if they are likely to lead to a settlement. It works because it brings all necessary parties to the bargaining table where they can “realistically” evaluate their positions and safely explore settlement options.
Resolve Issues Without Going to Trial
Mediation is an effective choice for many people, as the trial process can be contentious and stressful. If you are able to communicate with your ex-partner, mediation can help you work to resolve any points of disagreement.
What Does a Mediator Do?
Mediation is conducted by an impartial third-party, but he or she is not a judge and does not give legal advice to the parties. Rather, the mediator is a trained professional who helps the parties reach solutions by facilitating discussion. In particular, they:
- Help each party communicate what is important to them
- Keep the discussions focused, and non-combative
- Help the parties identify areas of agreement, as well as outstanding issues
- Help create a working relationship by fostering better communication between the parties
Benefits of Mediation
- Tends to be less expensive than the litigation process
- Avoid the stress and uncertainty of trial
- Allows the parties to have greater control over the outcome of their case
- Cases are often resolved more quickly when compared to traditional litigation
- Takes place in a less formal setting compared with a trial in a courthouse
Mediation vs. Arbitration
Mediation is different from an arbitration in that the mediator does not render a decision. Instead, mediation allows the parties to make their own decisions and fashion their own settlement.
The mediator generally doesn’t make recommendations but rather, allows the parties to make their own decisions based on a realistic analysis of their case.
Is Mediation Right for Me?
The best approach for your family law matter depends on many factors. In a divorce, it may depend on the level of cooperation between the partners, the length of the marriage, and whether children are involved.