An alternative to courts
Sometimes costly litigation can be avoided with mediation. Especially in family law related matters, mediation could be key to ensure that the issues involving your family are decided by your family.
Mediation is a process of resolving disputes outside of the courtroom. A third-party neutral, often a lawyer or retired judge, will attempt to facilitate fruitful conversations between the parties to find common ground, highlight that ground, and hopefully create an environment which will lend itself to a settlement. An important factor of mediation is that it is not the mediator’s job to create the settlement. Whether a settlement occurs is always left to the parties. The mediator is there to facilitate the conversations so that the parties can discuss their positions, opinions, wants, etc., in the best manner possible.
In cases involving family matters such as divorce, child custody, child support, and/or marital property settlement, having a third-party neutral is imperative. When feelings are at an all-time high, it is difficult to set aside those feelings. Many couples cannot separate their feelings from the matters at hand and find themselves unsatisfied and unsettled. Mediation can offer the environment necessary to have those feelings heard while simultaneously engaging in a meaningful conversation about the issues at hand.
In situations where there is abuse or an uncooperative party, mediation may not be the best method. Likewise, when one party blatantly refuses to cooperate or have a conversation about disputed issues it may be impossible to hold mediation. Other times, couples find it difficult and sometimes impossible to communicate between themselves but once placed in a room with a third-party neutral do find a way to work together effectively.
In the case of children, it is important to remember that a judge is tasked with the job to decide what is in the best interest for the children. When explained in that regard many parents realize they would rather make those “best interest” decisions about their own children rather than an individual who is not understanding of their family dynamic. Similarly, in cases of marital property or a marital award, a judge will make what they deem is “fair” and “appropriate” given the circumstances and that may differentiate a great deal than what the couple thinks is “fair” and “appropriate.”
To help identify whether mediation is the right process for you, below is a list of its pros and cons:
• Save money and avoid costly litigation.
• The parties decide what is best for them and their family rather than a judge not familiar with the family or dynamic.
• The parties have an opportunity to use their voice in ways that a courtroom would not permit.
• The parties control and orchestrate the settlement, not their attorneys or a judge.
• Parties may settle more issues that may not be appropriate for a courtroom.
• Perhaps a total settlement isn’t possible but could limit the issues for court.
• History of fear or abuse would render mediation impossible and, if forced, only perpetuate those fears and the abuse.
• In highly contentious relationships, some parties may only “listen” if a judge is issuing an order.
• There’s a sense of finality in a courtroom that may not be present in mediation.
• If one party is not willing to engage in any conversation it may be impossible to have a meaningful mediation.
• One party may not make a good faith effort to disclose vital information.
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