Mediation and Facilitation
During your divorce proceeding, you and your family law attorney will usually stake out a position regarding settlement.
Your spouse and their attorney will also develop their own position regarding settlement. In most cases, after the attorneys have outlined their positions, they will communicate with each other whether in person or via telephone, to see if a final settlement can be reached. However, it is frequently difficult for the attorneys and the parties to have a “meeting of the minds.” This is especially true in divorce proceedings in which there are significant hard feelings between the parties.
When the parties cannot reach a final settlement, they can choose one of two paths. The first choice is to demand that the case proceed to trial before the judge. Trials, by their very nature, are complicated and emotionally exhausting. The second option is that the parties can voluntarily engage in an alternative dispute resolution process known as mediation or facilitation. In some instances, even if the parties do not wish to participate in mediation or facilitation, the judge could order you to participate prior to conducting a trial.
When the parties participate in mediation, a trained and impartial mediator is employed as the neutral party. The chosen mediator will be an attorney with a great depth of experience practicing family law in the jurisdiction where your case resides. The mediator’s job is not to favor one side over the other, but rather to help the parties develop a middle ground on which agreement can be reached.
The mediation session will almost always be held at the neutral mediator’s office. Usually, you and your attorney will sit in one conference room while your spouse and their attorney will sit in another conference room. The mediator will then engage in what is referred to as “shuttle diplomacy” where she goes back and forth between the parties while trying to develop areas of common agreement. A good mediator can often persuade parties to move a little or even a lot from their original positions.
The mediator cannot force the parties to reach a settlement. In general, the mediation process has a very high rate of settling cases. But again, the mediator cannot make you agree upon a settlement. If a settlement is reached, then the mediator will memorialize the settlement right then and there at the mediation session. Some mediators will type a settlement agreement which the parties would sign prior to leaving the mediation session. Other mediators will have both parties and their attorneys convene into one room and will then dictate a settlement agreement into a recording device in which the parties will verbally testify that they wish to be bound by the agreement.
The Mediation Settlement Agreement Will Address Every Last Item of Conflict Between the Parties
The mediation agreement should include:
- Division of assets
- Division of real estate
- Division of vehicles
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Division of debt
- Division of savings and retirement plans
- Protocols for future dispute resolution
- Custody of minor children and visitation schedules
Mediation is a Very Effective Way to Bring a Divorce Proceeding to a Resolution
There are many good reasons for participating in mediation. Such good reasons include:
- What transpires during the mediation session is private and withheld from the Court’s records.
- Divorce cases in which parties reach a compromise agreement are always preferable to having a court make a decision. The parties will usually be much happier with a negotiated agreement than with a court order.
- When the parties can reach a compromise via mediation, it sets a precedent which will allow the parties to reach future compromises as issues arise.
- When the parties have voluntarily agreed upon a mediated settlement, there is a greater likelihood that the parties will follow the agreement, whereas a court order is sometimes violated.
- In 100% of the cases, settlements reached at mediation are less expensive and less time-consuming than cases that are taken to trial.
If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers, call me. I've helped hundreds of people protect their family and their assets and I can help you. For a FREE Consultation Call (248) 921-7164