Mediation in Family Law Cases

As a certified family law mediator, I understand how crucial mediation is in family law cases. Some courts require it and some do not, but will recommend mediation if both parties agree upon it. The problem is that many people do not understand what mediation is and how it is typically the better option than trial. The key is being fully informed and knowing what your options are instead of just going to court all of the time.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows both parties to settle their case without the intervention of a judge. You, the other party, or both parties can agree upon or petition the court to order the case to mediation. Upon issuing that order, the court will either appoint someone at the court’s discretion or the parties can agree upon who the mediator will be. There are several options for a mediator in these types of cases. The mediator can be an attorney who specializes in family law or not. Sometimes, the mediator is not an attorney at all but has developed negotiation skills and taken the prerequisites in order to be a certified mediator. Some courthouses have alternate dispute resolution centers that they can refer parties to if they are in need of a lower price for mediation or if they cannot agree upon whom the mediator will be.

What is the Process?

Once appointed, someone will have to put the mediator on notice so that they can begin the scheduling process. Once the mediation is scheduled, some mediators send out their information packets including information forms that they request to be returned prior to the mediation date. On the day of mediation, you arrive a little early so you can get situated (bring something to entertain yourself because there will be some down time in between the offers). You and your attorney will be in a separate room from the other party and their attorney. The mediator will start with the petitioner and get their version of the case as well as the initial offer and then it starts from there. The mediator will then go back and forth between rooms working off of the offers to try and facilitate an agreement. If a settlement is reached, then the mediator will draft a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) and have all parties and their attorneys sign off. Once signed, this cannot be changed and a final order will be drafted pursuant to the agreement.

If you have any additional questions regarding mediation or your family law case in general, schedule a consultation with Guest and Gray Law Firm today.