What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process where an impartial third person, the mediator, helps people negotiate with one another to resolve issues relating to parenting, divorce, or issues that arise after a divorce.
Why use mediation for parenting, divorce and post divorce issues?
- Mediation has many advantages that litigation does not have.
- In mediation, parties keep control over the outcome and solutions. They are familiar with issues unique to their family. Parents are able to focus on the needs of their children.
- Mediation is confidential and private.
- Disputes can be settled promptly. Mediation can be scheduled as soon as both parties agree to use mediation, even before legal papers are filed.
- Parties are able to reduce the emotional trauma for the family that divorce litigation can produce.
- Settlement in mediation is entirely voluntary. While the courts may order you to try mediation, either party or the mediator may end mediation at any time.
- Mediation costs are usually significantly less than trial costs.
- Parties are more likely to comply with voluntary agreements that meet their needs.
How does mediation work?
- The mediator meets with the parties/parents in a room that allows for privacy and safety. Parties/parents may elect to bring their attorneys with them, and this is often advisable. After a brief description of the process, ground rules are set, confidentiality is explained, and parties are asked to sign a paper saying they agree to mediate. Parents may work toward creating a plan for parenting, and the parties may discuss assets, debts and spousal support.
- Through mediation, parties have an opportunity to tailor a plan specifically suited to their needs and the needs of their children. The mediator will usually meet privately with each party to explore more fully the facts and needs of the parties. This gives the participants the opportunity to communicate to the mediator their real interests as well as to vent anger or frustration outside the presence of the opposing party.
- When authorized by a party, the mediator will communicate ideas and proposals to the other party so that agreement can be reached. The agreement is then written down and signed by the parties.
How much does it cost?
Mediation costs vary depending on the mediator. The usual range is $150 to $350 an hour. Depending on the issues involved, family mediation may sometimes be completed in one session. If you qualify for free legal services, you may be able to have a mediator without a fee.
What is a mediator's role?
The mediator is not a judge and does not render a decision or impose a solution on any party. Rather, the mediator helps those involved to talk to each other, thereby allowing them to resolve the dispute themselves in a way that meets the needs of both parties.
Find answers to these questions and more in the linked brochure.
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