FAMILY LAW MEDIATION
Mediation not Retaliation
No one begins their married life thinking of dividing assets and liabilities, alimony payments, child support or visitation arrangements. Divorce is not a failure. There are many reasons for divorce and the reasons are never the same. In a family situation where divorce is the last resort, as difficult as it is, in today’s economy, do it quickly and economically.
For every action there is NOT an equal and opposite reaction. Divorce is NOT the equal and opposite reaction to marriage. Regardless of the reason a marriage ends, the cost of a divorce can be far greater in terms of family unity, health, and wealth if it is viewed as a battle with a clear winner. In a divorce, no one wins and everyone must compromise.
Don’t make a divorce the end of the world. Approaching it as a battle will ensure that the costs will be greater than any benefit you expect. The longer the process of the divorce takes, the longer it will hurt and the more expensive it will be…guaranteed!
Weather you are going through the process with or without an attorney, it is key that cost savings is a primary consideration during the process.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is a voluntary process which enables the parties to stay in control and make their own decisions regarding their family’s future rather that leaving their fate to a Judge who knows nothing about the parties and their family. Since it is completely voluntary, you may withdraw from the mediation at any time.
The mediation process allows you to agree on the important decisions together in order to arrive at a settlement agreement which is fair and equitable and acceptable to both parties. All discussions are conducted by an experienced and trained mediator in the privacy and comfort of the mediator’s office without ever having to go to court.
The mediator is a neutral party who, quite simply, assists the parties with negotiations. The mediator does not represent or make decisions for any of the parties. The mediator encourages and helps the parties clarify any unresolved issues, to generate options and to find solutions that are acceptable to all the parties.
Additional Points to Consider.
Parties to a dispute may choose mediation as (often) a less expensive rout to follow for dispute resolution. While a mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, the mediation process takes much less time than moving a case through litigation. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or filed in court may take months or even years to resolve, a case in mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of hours (or days). Taking less time means expending less money on attorney’s hourly fees and costs.
Mediation, by law in Los Angeles County in California, is a confidential process. While court hearings of cases are open to the public along with court records, whatever happens in mediation remains strictly confidential. No on but the parties to the dispute, their attorneys (if applicable) and the mediator know what has gone on in the mediation hearing.
In fact, confidentiality in mediation has such importance that the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of a mediation. Many mediators actually destroy their notes taken and documents received during a mediation once that mediation has finished.
Finally, but certainly not least, and as mentioned earlier in this article, the mediation takes place with the aid of a mediator who is a neutral third party. A good mediator is trained in conflict resolution and in working with difficult situations. The good mediator is likely to work as much with the emotional aspects and relationship aspects of a case as he or she is to work on the “topical” issues of the matter.
The mediator, as a neutral, gives no legal advice, but guides the parties through the problem solving process. The mediator may or may not suggest alternative solutions to the dispute. Whether he or she offers advice or not, the trained mediator helps the parties think “outside of the box” for possible solutions to the dispute, thus enabling the parties to find the avenue to dispute resolution that suits them best.
Tragically, too many mediations take place after several thousand dollars in legal fees have already been spent preparing for trial. By this time, most parties are quite aggravated with each other. Doesn’t it seem logical that the first step be mediation?
So, what is the truth about divorce mediation vs. litigation? It is an important question, with no “one-size-fits-all” answer. For most couples, mediation easily bests the scorch and burn, “War of the Roses”, winner-take-all, lawyer fought, custody battle litigated approach to divorce!