What is Mediation?
Mediation is defined as “the intervention between the parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise” in a dispute. Practically, this means a safe place for parties to openly discuss their concerns, goals, and suggestions to resolve the conflict. The mediator’s goal is to facilitate safe dialogue, get to the heart of each party’s concern, and then brainstorm solutions. Most importantly, this is a confidential process. Neither party can testify about anything the other person offered at mediation, and neither can subpoena the mediator to testify regarding anything said during the process. These protections facilitate a free exchange of information to resolve (hopefully) the current dispute.
Why Go Through It?
Mediation is an effective and affordable option to resolve conflicts prior to, during, or after court involvement. Some parties use this process before filing their case, but regardless, family law courts usually require mediation during a case. This ensures that both parties made a good-faith effort to resolve the dispute on their own, without a contested trial.
Mediation is a party-driven process – it empowers you to take control of the situation. In the setting, you can create solutions that serve best serve both parties. If you reach agreement on the issues, you can avoid a Judge making decisions for you. When possible, you should avoid a third party, with no knowledge of your family, dictating the rest of your lives.
The Mediation Process:
Mediation begins with the selected mediator explaining the process and expectations for each party. It can take place with both parties in the room with the mediator, or with both parties in separate rooms where they might feel safer speaking freely about their concerns. If in separate rooms, the mediator goes back and forth to try facilitating an agreement to the issues. If both parties are in the same room, the mediator sets the expectations for discussion, and both parties receive opportunities to discuss their concerns .
When you reach agreement at mediation, the mediator then drafts a “Memorandum of Understanding” that reflects the terms, and when signed by all parties, this becomes an enforceable agreement. You (or your attorney) file the agreement with the court, and once accepted, it binds the case and the parties who signed it. If, however, you do not reach agreement, both parties walk away and move forward through the litigation process.
Mediation usually occurs in full- or half-day sessions. The fees and any retainer depend entirely on the type of case, the length of mediation, and the amount of time the mediator spends beforehand to prepare.
Dispute Resolution Practice Areas:
The attorneys at Opfer | Campbell | Beck P.C. offer mediation in all family law cases, including divorce (dissolution of marriage) and separation, custody (Allocation of Parental Responsibilities), and post-decree issues. For information about our representation in those matters, please reference our Practice Areas here.