What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal process during which an impartial third party, the mediator, assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement regarding their dispute. The intent of the mediation session(s) is to identify pertinent issues, clarify any misunderstandings, explore solutions, and negotiate a written settlement agreement.
What is the 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 the parties communicate with each other, thereby allowing them to resolve the issues involved with their dispute. The mediator manages the mediation session(s) and remains impartial and does not provide either party with legal, tax or financial advice.
How does mediation work?
At the mediation session(s), the divorcing parties present a summary of their points of view. Attorneys for the spouses may be present. Typically, the mediator will then meet privately (caucus) with each party to explore more fully the facts and issues of each side. The caucus offers both parties the opportunity to vent anger or frustrations outside the presence of the other party. The mediator usually will continue to caucus alternately with each party, carrying settlement proposals back and forth until an agreement is reached. The settlement agreement is then reduced to writing, and signed by the parties.
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
Doesn’t the court already require mediation?
Yes, but not until way too late in the litigation process. Voluntary mediation allows you to negotiate a resolution before thousands of dollars have been spent on attorney’s fees and everyone gets locked into positions on the issues.
Does the judge get involved with mediation? If so, when?
With mediation, the judge gets involved after the issues have been settled. The mediator helps prepare a Settlement Agreement. Then, you go to court for the judge to approve your settlement. .
Do most attorneys prefer going to court?
Responsible attorneys will counsel their clients to try to reach agreement whenever possible, and avoid going court.
Does mediation really save money?
Yes, mediation is almost always much less expensive than going to court. The reason is simple. You control the time that is spent on mediation. Thus, you are in control of the costs, unlike in court where the judge is in control.