Many family law matters – including the terms for a divorce, property division, custody and parenting time arrangements, and spousal support – are often resolved through mediation.
In mediation, each of the parties and their attorneys meet with a mediator to seek an resolution for matters remain unresolved. Importantly, the mediator does not have the power to make decisions or to compel an outcome; rather it is the role of the mediator to assist the parties in coming to an acceptable agreement whenever possible.
Wouldn’t it be Better to Get a Judge to Decide Matters?
Usually, no. This is because the judge will not have the flexibility to craft solutions that the parties have. Mediation also offers a number of other benefits over going to trial, including:
- Mediation is less expensive
- Issues can be resolved more quickly, rather than waiting for a trial, and
- The parties in a mediation have significant flexibility to craft solutions and outcomes, so long as the best interests of the children (if any) are maintained.
Additionally, while judges often care about the parties involved, the reality is you will have a much stronger and more personal interest in the outcome of these matters then a judge will. Put simply, a judge does not have to live with the outcome of these matters; you will.
My Goal – Secure for You the Best Outcome Possible
In a mediation, creative problem-solving is often critical for obtaining a favorable outcome. In the divorce context, it is important for both spouses to understand a resolution of their issues will occur – it is only a matter of who decides the resolution. – Either the parties can take control of determining the outcome, or they can leave it up to a court to decide the important matters that will affect their life. While sometimes it is necessary to have the court decide issues, almost everyone is better off resolving them outside of the courtroom when possible.
The Characteristics of a Good Mediator
Good mediators are great listeners. They do not come into the mediation with preconceived ideas about how issues should be resolved; instead they listen and help both sides articulate their desired outcome.
Good mediators also require each side think carefully about the strengths and weaknesses of their position. Often, each side in a mediation will be convinced that a judge will easily find in their favor; a mediator may offer their thoughts on why that might not be the case.
Good mediators are also adept at taking small areas of agreement between both sides and seeing if these areas can be enlarged to include more issues.
Part of my job is working with opposing counsel or the other party to find a good mediator. Finding such mediators can drastically increase the chances of reaching an agreement.
What if a Resolution for All Matters is Not Reached?
In some cases, all issues can be resolved in one mediation, in other cases, more than one mediation may be needed. In other situations still, the parties may agree upon some issues, but other issues may be left for a judge to determine. Even in situations where not all of the issues are resolved, clients still benefit by reducing the number of issues left for a judge to decide.