Mediation is a procedure through which you and the opposing party will be required to attempt to negotiate a settlement. This may include the involvement of an independent third party. As you may imagine, mediation is an integral part of any domestic relations case. Although you may recognize the importance of mediation, you may have some questions looming in your mind. Today, we’re here to review some essential mediation tips that can make all the difference in your case.
One of the most critical foundations of a good meditation session is sufficient knowledge. Because each case is so unique, it’s imperative that the parties involved have a keen understanding of what issues are contested in their case. If you’re getting a divorce, there may be areas upon which you and your spouse agree (e.g. parenting time), and areas where there is significant disagreement (e.g. spousal support). Knowing these issues and providing your mediator with a confidential settlement statement can help set the tone of the mediation. Furthermore, these confidential settlement statements will provide the mediator with at least a preview of what to expect.
Correlated to the subject of knowing what your issues are, is knowing who to select for a mediator. Just as all cases are unique, no two mediators are the same. Some mediators have a knack for specific areas of the law. For example, if your case rests mainly upon financial considerations, you may want to seek a mediator with a financial background or at least a substantial amount of experience with financial issues. On the other hand, if the significant disputes in your case are related to parenting issues, you’ll likely want to find a mediator skilled in the area of issues involving children. By finding an appropriate mediator, you can help lay the groundwork for having a successful mediation.
Another question regarding the selection of a mediator is whether to go with a private mediator or to use an individual with the court’s Office of Dispute Resolution or “ODR”. Depending on the circumstances of your case, this will largely determine the appropriate choice. Private mediators tend (or at least are perceived), to be more effective than those retained through ODR. While this may or may not be true, this is often a consideration that comes up. Next, private mediators tend to be more expensive for their services. Depending on your financial situation, this may or may not be a significant consideration. Finally, private mediators tend to have some more flexibility in terms of availability; as they work independently, they may be able to be more accommodating with your scheduling needs.
Regardless of whether you use the services of a private mediator or one found through ODR, and irrespective of whether you select a mediator with specialized expertise, proper use of your attorney will be integral to your mediation. As with all aspects of your case, your attorney can help. Your attorney can provide you with information about the law, likely results at trial, the reasonableness of your position, and advocacy for your needs. In all of these situations, your attorney can help you to realize a successful outcome at mediation. So if you have an attorney, don’t make the mistake of “putting them on the bench” for mediation. There are concerns about the cost of using your attorney. More often than not, however, using the services of your attorney at mediation can make the difference between reaching a settlement or having to proceed to a contested hearing.
Mediation is a critical component of any domestic relations case. If you are strategic in how you approach meditation and how you select a mediator, you can increase the likelihood that mediation will result in a reasonable settlement of your case. If you have questions about mediation, or if you have a mediation date soon approaching, get in touch with an attorney. Modern Family Law practices exclusively in family law, we are familiar with reputable mediators, and we can help you. So get in touch with one of our attorneys today for a consultation at no cost to you.
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