Mediation is a specific type of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and a process that can be either court-ordered or voluntary. It can address a variety of issues such as child custody and support, equitable distribution, parenting arrangements, tax implications and spousal support. The parties meet with a Mediator who facilitates an open dialogue to identify the issues and encourage the parties to express their needs and wishes to resolve the dispute. The parties’ counsel is present and participates. The parties may negotiate the ground rules and parameters and are active participants throughout the process. The Mediator encourages dialogue and, although neutral, can provide legal information which may give the parties an idea how their case will be treated in court. If the parties reach a consensus, an agreement is written and signed and results in a binding contracts. Courts are likely to enforce a legally valid agreement. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, all aspects of the process are inadmissible in court.
Many family court matters are resolved through mediation or the collaborative law process. A settlement negotiated directly between the parties is almost always more acceptable to both than any court-determined outcome. Mediation provides more freedom to develop creative solutions. It speeds up the resolution process and is less costly than traditional lawsuits. It is private and confidential.
We can act as an attorney at mediation or serve as a neutral private Mediator. With regard to the latter, we cannot represent clients subsequent to an unsuccessful mediation. We are trained and certified divorce mediators. Our experience allows us to know a court’s usual way of viewing the issues and allows us to negotiate and facilitate an informed decision regarding accepting or rejecting a settlement at mediation. Our knowledge also allows us to assess whether a settlement is fair or what additional measures a client should take to obtain a fair resolution.