What is Mediation in Family Law?
The process of mediation is a voluntary and non-adversarial approach to resolving disputes between divorcing couples, parents with children, or grandparents seeking visitation. The goal of the mediation process is to help parties communicate clearly and identify areas for compromise so that a settlement can be reached.
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There are several reasons that families choose to go through the family mediation process instead of going through a trial in court. One of the most important reasons is that it often saves money and minimizes long-term stress and distress.
A skilled, licensed mediator leads the mediation sessions and helps the parties to communicate effectively in a clear, unconfrontational manner. The mediator does not make any recommendations or impose any requirements on the parties, and he or she does not have the authority to subpoena information or hold anyone in contempt of court.
Mediation can be a very effective tool for resolving family law issues and for preventing escalating conflict between parents or grandparents who have custody of their children or who are trying to obtain visitation rights. It can also help to reduce the impact of divorce or separation on the children involved.
In mediation, the parties and their attorneys begin the negotiation process by identifying the real issues that have arisen in the dispute. These issues may include the legal aspects of the divorce or custody case and non-legal issues such as a family history of abuse, addiction, or other serious mental health problems that affect the ability of the parties to function in their daily lives.
If the parties are able to reach an agreement in mediation, they can then file the agreement with a court so that it becomes legally binding and enforceable. If the agreement cannot be fully agreed upon in the mediation process, the mediator can draft a partial agreement and the parties can sign it.
The mediator guides the negotiations between the parties, often in private meetings called “caucuses.” The mediator does not tell the parties what to do or impose any requirements on them. Rather, the mediator helps the parties to focus on what they want out of the mediation and what solution they can agree upon that is mutually acceptable for the parties and their children.
During the negotiation process, the mediator often uses questions and discussion to guide the parties to identify solutions that work best for them. The mediator may also use a variety of methods to help the parties find common ground such as the creation of a shared parenting plan, a joint parenting schedule, or an arrangement for joint physical custody and joint legal custody.
Sometimes, the mediator may also recommend that both parties hire their own separate family law attorneys and seek independent legal advice and representation. This is because it is critical to have a legal expert present during the negotiation process to ensure that the parties understand all of their options and what they should expect from the negotiations, as well as what their rights are under the law.