When it comes to divorce or child custody issues, most couples hope to get through the process quickly, with minimal stress, little hassle, and as few costs as possible. Litigation is known to be stressful and expensive, which is why many people choose to avoid it in favor of family law mediation. Whether you’re getting a divorce or resolving a child custody dispute, mediation can save you thousands of dollars. To help you decide if it suits your situation, today we’re discussing what to expect in family law mediation.
What to Expect in Family Law Mediation
DISCUSSION LED BY A MEDIATOR
The mediation will involve discussion (sometimes quick, sometimes more extensive and detailed) guided by a mediator. The process begins with the parties involved outlining the issues in dispute. Then, each party will explain their side of the case and explain how they would like the issues resolved. The mediator will help the parties find common ground and suggest potential solutions. Sometimes the mediator will meet with each party separately as well, to speak in confidence. Once an agreement has been made, the final decision is produced in writing, reviewed and signed by both parties, and sent to the judge for approval.
The pivotal difference between litigation and mediation lies in who is making the final decision. In a courtroom, a judge will make the decision in your case based on the evidence and arguments presented. In mediation, on the other hand, you will make the decision by resolving your case with the assistance of a mediator. If you want to retain control over your case, mediation may be the best choice. In addition, because you and the other party have worked out this agreement together, you may find that it’s easier to accept.
Although the mediator will help both parties come to an agreement, they are not allowed to offer legal advice. Hire an attorney beforehand so that you can prepare a strategy and avoid legal pitfalls. Ideally, attorneys will represent both parties, because if one party chooses to act as their own attorney, they may mistrust the other party or assume that they are at an automatic disadvantage. In addition, attorneys make the process run more smoothly for the mediator, especially in high-conflict cases.
FEWER FEES, LESS TIME, & MORE PRIVACY
Mediation is much quicker than litigation, which means that you’ll save both time and money. Your mediator should help you “keep your eye on the ball,” so that you’re continually working toward resolution instead of getting bogged down in minor details, intense emotions, or past arguments. Plus, where court proceedings are a matter of public record, mediation is confidential. The mediator will not share any information you reveal during the proceedings.
IMPROVED COMMUNICATION SKILLS
During mediation, many people learn valuable communication and negotiation skills that they can use throughout their life. This is especially important for divorcing parents, who can use these skills to settle future disputes.
Family law mediation is a great way to avoid the stress and cost of litigation. If you’re interested in pursuing mediation, discuss your specific situation with an attorney to decide if it is the best choice for you.
When you’re ready to get started, please contact Replogle, Tyrrell, & Robertson. Our attorneys understand that every family law case is different, and with our experience and dedication, we can help you prepare for mediation (or litigation), make sensible decisions, and address any problems that arise. Give us a call at 417-859-3979 (Marshfield office) or 417-893-5121 (Springfield office) to get started.