Mediation in Family Law

Mediation in Family Law; people meeting at a table
Mediation agreements are common in family law and divorce cases

Divorce and Family Law Mediation

Mediation in family law cases involves both parties, like a divorcing husband and wife, meeting with a neutral 3rd party, a mediator.  If either party has an attorney, that attorney also typically attends the mediation.

The mediator clarifies issues in dispute, facilitates communication between the parties, and helps the parties reach an agreement.  He or she may also include impressions of how the Court would handle a particular issue.

However, the mediator is neutral and does not take sides.  A mediator doesn’t make the agreement for the parties.

The mediation process is also confidential.  Neither participant may use statements from the mediator as evidence later.

Also, the mediator doesn’t have any decision-making authority.  Therefore, the parties don’t have to agree to anything if they don’t feel comfortable with it.

Lastly, Judges typically expect parties to make at least one good faith effort to participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before moving towards a trial.  Mediation is a common example of an ADR process.

However, if mediation fails, either party may assert his or her rights in Court.

 Advantages of Mediation

First and foremost, when the parties reach complete agreement in the mediation, they may then proceed to end the case.  Any agreement the parties reach will go before a Judge and generally will become a Court order.  This ultimately saves the parties time, money, and more emotional distress that comes with a long, drawn out trial.

In addition, the mediation process manages risk and gives the parties control of the process.  If the parties don’t agree, a Judge will ultimately decide the issues.  This could leave either party in much worse a spot than had they reached a settlement agreement.  In many trials, one side definitely “loses” or at least feels like he or she “lost”.

Finally, in situations which involve children, they tend to be better adjusted later on when their parents work together and reach agreements themselves.

Mediation is an excellent option for parties in different family law situations.  This includes divorces, child custody cases, and alimony disputes. 

It’s so potentially valuable that a judge may order parties to participate in mediation to at least try to resolve their disputes with minimal Court involvement. 

Except in cases involving domestic abuse, parties should consider mediation in family law cases.  Mediators advertise online and Court may sometimes provide lists of mediators.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.  For Court rules, please click here.