Family law cases come in all varieties, and no two are the same. The issues involved can be so vastly different from one case to the next that each case requires special attention to the nuances of that individual case and the people involved. However, for all the intricacies and unique characteristics of each case, one theme is almost universally applicable — mediation can be extremely helpful in reaching a resolution. This article discusses mediation, mediated resolutions, benefits of mediation, and the difference mediation can make in your case.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process by which parties to a legal matter submit their case to an independent third party in an effort to gain mutual understanding, resolve differences, and reach an agreement. In family law cases, mediation is a precondition to proceeding to a final hearing. Therefore, when a party files for divorce, legal separation, allocation of parental responsibilities, or some other type of case, they should expect that mediation will soon be on their horizon. When parties are ordered to attend mediation, it is mandated that the parties attempt to mediate in good faith. So there is an expectation that both parties, no matter how bitter, will attempt to work together to reach a mediated resolution that is acceptable to both of them. If the parties are able to reach an agreement, they may draft the terms of their settlement, sign, and eventually, file with the court for approval.
Don’t Litigate. Mediate.
The benefits associated with mediation are countless, but we’ll try to review at least a few. The first benefit of mediation is that it is cheap (or at least far less expensive than the costs associated with proceeding to trial). Because mediation typically occurs well in advance of a trial, you will minimize the costs associated with trial preparation, exhibits, subpoenas, and witnesses. Next, mediation allows the parties to formulate their own outcome. Because the parties are allowed to be as creative as they please, a mediated resolution tends to be much more agreeable than a typical court order. Finally, mediation encourages cooperation and open dialogue. Because negotiations can’t occur in silence, and the settlement doesn’t occur with hostility, participating in mediation can provide parties with effective tools for future communication.
Now, there are a few times in these articles where we’re able to describe tangible benefits. With mediation, however, there are so many real benefits to you. In just about every case, mediation more than likely has something to offer to you. As discussed previously, it can save you a substantial amount of both time and money. Next, it provides you with a far greater degree of control on the outcome of your case. Furthermore, mediation can be beneficial even if you don’t settle all (or any) of the issues in your case. Whether you agree upon a few aspects and limit the scope of any contested hearing, or if it simply provides you with some insight as to the other party’s position, both provide a tangible benefit. Also, mediation allows you an opportunity to vent your frustrations in a safe environment rather than a courtroom. Additionally, the mediator will frequently provide feedback as to the reasonableness of any position. Finally, mediation can help to promote trust, open communication, and communication.
Mediation is hands down one of the most beneficial steps in family law cases. If the parties are willing to participate in good faith, many are able to resolve a lot of outstanding issues and reach a mediated resolution. If you have questions about mediation, it’s worth taking the time to speak to an attorney. At MFL, we specialize in family law and we know all about mediation. Call us today for a free consultation with one of our qualified family law attorneys.