What Role Does Mediation Play in a Family Law Case?
Mediation can be very helpful in resolving disputes in divorce and family law cases depending on the issues involved and the goals and personalities of the parties. Mediation involves a neutral third party meeting with the spouses and their respective attorneys to attempt to resolve pending issues.
Mediation is a form of voluntary, alternative dispute resolution. It allows the parties to control the outcome of the case by agreeing to settlement terms. If there is no settlement, parties give up control and leave it up to a judge to decide their fate and the fate of their children. Mediation can also avoid the expense, time, physical and mental energy that further litigation will require. It can take place at any time during the legal process.
Settlements commonly occur when the attorneys for both sides communicate with their clients and try to come up with solutions that will satisfy both parties (at least enough for them to settle). If that has not resulted in an agreement, mediation may be worth a try as long as there is still some good faith and flexibility amongst the parties. If one party, or both, just sees litigation as a form of warfare needed to punish the wrong doings of his or her spouse, mediation will be a waste of time because it will just become another battle ground.
Mediation can take many forms, depending on how the parties want to proceed. The mediator may meet alone with the parties, or with their attorneys or have the parties separated in different rooms. What is discussed during mediation is confidential and cannot be used as evidence at trial if the mediation fails.
Mediators guide the conversation between the sides, try to build trust and cultivate common interests and goals. If there are several issues of contention, often the mediator will try to resolve the simpler or easier disputes and try to build momentum towards a complete agreement. Ideally the parties reach a point where they realize that they do not want to give up on the progress they have made, that the mediation process is a better alternative to a trial and make the decisions necessary to reach a resolution to all their disputes.
If there is an impasse, the parties may ask the mediator to suggest a resolution. Some mediators are willing to make suggestions; others only want the parties to come up with a solution.
Given all of the costs that come with litigation and the fact that most family law cases settle before a full trial takes place, it often makes sense to give mediation a try. If you have questions about resolving a domestic relations dispute, the Attorneys at Cohen Family Law in Phoenix, Arizona have experience in all aspects of divorce mediation and the mediation of family law matters. Call (602) 714-8898 for a free consultation today.