Family Mediation 101

Divorce cost money, no matter how easy a lawyer and the client try to make the process, one cannot get around the fact that going through a divorce is expensive. There are, however, certain alternatives that couples can partake in to try and reduce the amount of time spent in court and may also help lessen the costs. One of these ways is through family mediation.

Although it is presumed that couples going through a divorce are so completely filled with hate that no agreements can ever be made, this is not always the case. And for clients who believe that they may be able to come to certain agreements on topics such as, child custody and splits of assets or debts, mediation is a great alternative to litigation. Parties that choose to go through mediation are able to make equitable choices of how to divide their assets and debts rather than being stuck with how the court decides to distribute them.

A neutral third party, whose goal is to help couples reach an agreement that satisfies their needs and interests, conducts the mediation. The mediator is not partial to either party, but only helps each party to make decisions that will be beneficial to themselves and each other’s interest.

Family Mediations can be performed in one big room where everyone is present. In this type of mediation, clients, the mediator, and any other agreed parties such as lawyers and/or family members are present. These types of mediations are only beneficial when both parties are able to speak with each other in a civilized manner, and can come to agreements with out emotions getting in the way.

However, if couples are unable to be in the same room together without letting emotions get the best of them, mediations can be performed in a caucus type atmosphere. That is, each party can be in a separate room with their lawyer and/or family members and the mediator can go from room to room presenting to each side the other’s proposals. In this type of mediation you and the mediator can work out certain offers, such as child custody for instances. You may decide to tell the mediator that your spouse can have custody of the children each weekend since you have them all week. The mediator would then take this proposal to your spouse who could agree, not agree, or counter the offer with a different proposal. Here is where the mediations can become very lengthy. If two spouses refuse to agree on a proposal and are constantly making counter offers the mediator can become like a ping pong ball going back and forth the entire mediation. This would then be up to the mediator as to when to stop the mediation. Some only allow for a mediation to go a certain length, while others will mediate until 2:00 a.m. Length of the mediation can also be up to the parties and how long they have hired the mediator for.

Although mediation can last a great length and it sometimes can be difficult to reach certain agreements, there are many benefits in trying to settle a divorce through mediation rather than litigation. Some benefits are that mediation is less expensive than litigation, mediation is more timely than litigation (rather than waiting months or sometimes years for a court date), you and your spouse are able to make more satisfying mutual decisions rather then having the court decide, and parties can tailor their settlement to their particular situation.