Watch the Mediation Video here (click on link or the picture)
Divorce can be a painful and emotional time for all family members. The parties must resolve issues of parental decision making, division of assets and debts and ongoing support at a time when they are at an emotional precipice. The psychological, emotional and financial costs of divorce are painfully high. One way to attempt to resolve these issues with less cost is through the family mediation process. Family Mediation offers an opportunity to look for win-win solutions to the most difficult and troubling issues. Mediation can be used to address the issues that arise during the divorce or at a time when new issues arise or changes in the final judgment are needed.
Mediation is an opportunity for you and your spouse to meet with a neutral professional trained in assisting couples to resolve all issues of their divorce or post-divorce conflict. The mediation may be court ordered or the parties can agree to attend mediation without court intervention. It is important to know that the mediator is a neutral facilitator. The Mediator does not represent either of the parties and cannot provide legal advise to either of the parties. You can choose to bring an attorney to the mediation session or you can have any agreement reached during mediation reviewed by an attorney of your choosing before it is finalized. The Mediator is also not a decision maker in the case. The mediator can help the parties consider all options available to them but will not assess the options or instruct the parties on what decision must be made. This allows the parties to have complete control over the outcome of the case, unlike court where a stranger will decide the issues of your family with limited information.
Mediation is a confidential process. If the parties reach an agreement then this will be reduced to writing and signed by the participants. The agreement will then be presented to the court for ratification by the judge. The parties can reach a partial agreement (this would resolve only some of the issues but leave others to be resolved at a later time or by the Court), a temporary agreement (this would resolve issues for a temporary basis but would not be the permanent solution requiring further mediation or setting the matter before the court) or a full agreement (a final agreement resolving all issues and presented to the judge only for ratification). All discussions held during the negotiations cannot be repeated or disclosed outside of the mediation. There are some exceptions in the cases of domestic violence or the safety of children or the elderly are involved.
Mediation allows the parties to have ownership of the solutions to their issues. In the case of court the judge listens for a very short time to the explanations given by each side and any witnesses called. Each of the witnesses are constrained by certain rules of court that limit the things that they can talk about or explain to the judge. The judge may also be provided some evidence in the case, but again, there are limits on what types of documents can be considered by the court. After all of this, the judge makes a decision based upon the requirements of the statutes and case law. The decisions of the court may not always be “fair” and may be the worst case scenario for your family. This is because the judge has limited information and cannot make decisions that are not allowed under the rules of the court and the constraints of the statute . In the case of mediation, the parties know the needs and desires of their family. They know what has worked for them and their children and what has not.