Family Law Mediation
What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is when an impartial third party person, the mediator, meets with the Parties to help facilitate an agreement (i.e. divorce, child custody). Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) are often used as a substitute for, or even supplement to, court.
Settling through mediation is the goal, but it is not required and the mediator has no power to force the parties to settle. The mediator’s job is to promote both Parties’ voluntary participation, helping the family resolve any and all disputes. The outcome of mediation is always under the control of the Parties who are participating in the dispute, and not the mediator. This is an important distinction because in both litigation and arbitration the result is decided by either a judge or the arbitrator.
Why Choose Mediation?
Mediation is valuable for many families because it can:
- Increase communication between the Parties (family members)
- Promote everyone’s best interests
- Reduce the economic and emotional impact of a family dispute
- Reduce the time it takes to resolve a family dispute
- Empower the Parties to make the right choices for their family lifestyle
Emotional Benefits for Families
Oftentimes, parents use mediation in order to work out child support and child custody agreements with which they can both be satisfied. The mediator will meet separately with each parent to come up with a parenting agreement. Many parents find that mediation can be more productive than traditional litigation. Aside from being a less stressful experience for the parents, children ultimately benefit from parents cooperating toward a common goal. This cooperation might also set the family up for more effective co-parenting and potentially have a positive impact on the children in the future.
Traditional divorce litigation includes lawyer fees, court fees, filing fees, and a myriad of other potential expenses. Alternatively, mediation can provide a more cost-effective option. This can provide the family with a more stable financial environment and future.
Flexibility and Time
Mediation provides the opportunity to address family disputes in a much more timely manner than going to court. Settling family disputes on your own time, rather than the time dictated by the court, is much more appealing for busy families. Even if your mediation process requires multiple sessions, the scheduling options allow you more time to think through a solution that will work for everyone.
Who is the Family Mediator?
The mediator must be an impartial third party. For families, it is a wise decision to work with a family law mediator since he or she will be knowledgable about the applicable laws. Many family law attorneys are also family law mediators.
Attorneys for both Parties may speak to the mediator, but will not make any formal arguments or presentations before the mediator. If desired, the Parties can choose to hire only a mediator to help them through their specific issues. This can help reduce the economic impact and settle the dispute without turning to the courts. This allows the Parties to have more control over how they move forward, if a settlement is reached.
Kelly J. Capps is an experienced family law attorney and family law mediator. She listens closely to each Party regarding their family law issues. Whether a family law attorney or family law mediator is needed, we will find the best path for our clients to move their families forward.
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