What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process in which people work together with a trained mediator to negotiate and attempt to resolve their differences. Neither party is “right” or “wrong”, or “winner” or “loser”. While each party may come away somewhat unhappy, if the parties are able to avoid the time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining matrimonial or family litigation, they will both have succeeded. The role of the mediator is to help the parties work together towards that common goal.
For many separating parents and divorcing spouses, mediation is an alternative to costly and draining litigation. Between willing and cooperative parties, mediation provides an alternative to explore fair and equitable solutions while avoiding the sharp divide often resulting from adversarial litigation.
In mediation, the parties make decisions through direct discussion with an impartial mediator helping clarify positions and explaining perspectives of each side. An effective mediator will also help the parties gather and exchange information necessary to make informed decisions, including financial disclosure.
The mediator has no interest in the outcome and is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable process. When parties are in the process of separating, they need to make important decisions about many things, including future parenting arrangements and child support, and if the parties are married, they must also address the distribution of assets and liabilities, as well as spousal maintenance. After the parties have resolved their issues, our attorneys will draft a detailed agreement memorializing the terms and conditions. Once it is fully signed, that agreement becomes a legally binding contract and will eventually be filed with the Court to become a court order or incorporated into the judgment of divorce.
Mediation can also take place after the parties have separated and/or divorced to address issues that arose later, such as modification of custody/access issues.
The Lawyer’s Role in Mediation
Mediation does not mean that you proceed without the benefit of counsel. Although you may not have a lawyer sitting with you at the mediation, you should still have a lawyer to advise you as to your rights before and after sessions, and certainly before you enter into a final settlement. Your lawyer should review the agreement to confirm that it accurately states the terms and conditions of your agreement.
We often represent parties to the mediation process to help them protect their rights throughout the process.