Divorce and child custody matters are often some of the most stressful processes that people have to go through. The stress stems mainly from the fact that there is a major change in your family dynamic, living situation, and financial resources. Moreover, divorce litigation means you are handing over your important life decisions, such as custody and property division, to a judge, which means you retain little control over the process. Family law mediation is an excellent way to help you take back control over your family law case.
Mediation is a non-binding process, during which you and your spouse or partner sit down with a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator is not a judge and will not make decisions for you. Instead, the mediator’s job is to help facilitate an agreement and help resolve any issues you may have. The mediator will talk to you and the other party about possible resolutions to issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, child support, or visitation schedules. The mediator has special training to help provide a peaceful and respectful atmosphere designed to help you and your spouse come together and find common ground. You will not be forced to reach an agreement, and neither will your spouse. It is possible to come to an agreement on some, all, or none of the issues in your family law case.
Mediation has significant advantages over a contested trial. First, and most importantly, settling your case at mediation can allow you and your spouse to create tailor-made solutions for your issues. These may be solutions that a judge would be reluctant to impose without an agreement, such as “bird’s nest custody” agreements. Another very important advantage to mediation is that it can save you significant time and expense. If you are able to settle your case in mediation, your signed settlement agreement can be entered quickly and you can avoid accruing significant attorney’s fees as you will not have to pay your attorney to prepare for and try your case.
Although mediation can be a good choice for many cases, it is not suitable in every case. Where there is a history of domestic violence, for example, mediation is not appropriate. Similarly, where there is a vast imbalance of power between the parties by virtue of a significant disparity of financial resources or mental capacity, mediation may not be proper.