What Is Mediation?
Mediation is usually a one- or two-day process in which an impartial third-party mediator helps parties reach a binding settlement agreement. Most courts require mediation often because it has a high success rate. Today, mediation, either voluntary or court mandated, is the most common form of dispute resolution for divorcing couples.
Often, this step in the process can be used to reduce the number of issues in a divorce for a judge, or even avoid the need for trial altogether.
How Mediation Can Resolve Disputes?
Mediation is most effective after the parties have exchanged all financial and child-related information, and have a good understanding of what evidence will be presented in court if a settlement agreement is not reached. As a result, most, but not all, mediations take place after a case has been pending for a number of weeks or months.
Once the decision to mediate is made, it is necessary to find a mediator. Your attorney should help find mediators with experience, and specific knowledge of family law. It is also important to consider the mediator’s style and mediation philosophy.
The fees charged vary from mediator to mediator, and may be charged on an hourly basis, or by the day or half-day. In general, mediators help the parties and attorneys explore options, and negotiate a mutual settlement that resolves the dispute.
No Determination Of Right Or Wrong
Mediators do not determine who is right or wrong. Instead, they help the parties reach a solution that works for them. Generally, the mediator will place the parties with their attorneys in separate rooms, and shuttle back and forth between them in “private caucuses.” A private caucus is a conference between the mediator and one party, without the other party being present. The mediator relays offers and demands between the parties. Conversations between a party and the mediator during private caucus are confidential unless a party authorizes the mediator to disclose information to the other side.
The parties are not required to reach an agreement, and the mediator will not act like a judge and render a decision. If the case does settle, the mediator will have the parties sign a binding, irrevocable settlement agreement. If a settlement is not reached, the parties will proceed forward with the litigation and can decide to resolve the case in court.