If you have a family law case in Wisconsin with children, there is a significant chance you may end up going to mediation. In fact, in some cases, parties have to submit to this process before they can have a final hearing with the court. When used effectively, mediation can help both sides end their divorce or child custody case efficiently and for a fraction of the cost of a traditional suit. However, when things go wrong, the parties can end up in an even more acrimonious position. Here are a few of the reasons why some mediations fail, and others succeed:
The Parties’ Expectations
The more each party understands the mediation process before starting, the better. If someone goes into a Wisconsin family law mediation expecting to get the mediator to take their side, they probably won’t be able to effectively utilize the process. Likewise, someone intent on intimidating the other person into accepting an unfair agreement is not going to have a successful mediation.
Before setting foot inside your mediation process, you and your family law attorney should review your case and expectations, and discuss what will occur during the process. When both sides go into mediation knowing how everything works and with a realistic idea of the possible outcomes, they have a much higher likelihood of settling.
If you are not represented by counsel, you can simply ask the mediator about the process, and be willing to adjust expectations in accordance with feedback.
The Parties’ Willingness to Negotiate
Mediation provides both sides with the opportunity to meet with a trained, neutral third-party mediator. This person is there to assist the parties with finding common ground so they can reach agreements on their disputed issues.
The process involves helping the parties air grievances with the goal of reaching a compromise. If you go into mediation with a rigid mindset and an unwillingness to negotiate, you will be wasting your time and money. In addition, you will be losing an opportunity to end your case in a manner that fits your circumstances. Inflexibility will only lead the case away from the settlement.
When both parties enter the process with a willingness to yield their positions on some issues, mediation can work.
The Parties’ Flexibility, Behavior, and Insight
You have the choice during mediation to agree to terms that would not be available during the traditional trial process. For instance, if you want to divide your property unusually or arrange for a flexible placement schedule, you have the freedom to agree to these terms in mediation.
However, mediation often fails when one or both people show up but remain stuck in unreasonable positions. Progress can also be impeded when a party is overly aggressive or begins by making outlandish requests. If one side insists on starting mediation with a hostile attitude, or by demanding something they would never get from a Wisconsin court, it can make the process difficult.
Mediations work when parties are willing to be somewhat flexible, maintain reasonable postures with one another, and can see the broader mutual benefits of reaching an agreement outside of court.
The Parties’ Preparations
When you go into mediation, you need to be ready to settle your case. This means having all of the relevant documents and information that will be necessary for the mediator to assist you in reaching an agreement.
For example, in your divorce, you will need things such as financial records, real estate deeds, income information, bank statements, and other specific data. Parties who show up prepared make it easier for the mediator to come up with concrete solutions. Unprepared mediation participants won’t be able to work out important details and successfully utilize the process.
Make sure your homework is done in advance to expedite time and lower cost.
The Parties’ Family Law Attorneys
Ultimately, family law disputes are as unique as the people they involve. Consequently, different factors and personalities in a case can impact how each mediation will end. However, when you start with the right family law attorney/mediator, you will have the advice you need to make the most of the process. With an experienced Wisconsin family law advocate, you can prepare for your mediation and navigate the process with the support you need.
At First Look Family Law, attorney and mediator Karyn Youso has experience both mediating Wisconsin family law cases and representing clients in mediation. We can help you evaluate your situation and examine your options. Our office understands and wants to help you get your best outcome.