Mediation is a great process to help facilitate with the settlement of cases. The majority of cases that we are unable to resolve by way of voluntary settlement agreement are later resolved at mediation. As a former mediator, I am a strong proponent of the mediation process.
At mediation, there is a mediator, who is a neutral third party (most of the time an attorney). The mediator assists the parties in reaching an amicable settlement by facilitating discussion and negotiation. The parties usually attend mediation with their respective attorney.
Most mediations follow a similar format. The mediator starts the mediation by giving a statement on the mediation process and then each attorney provides a brief statement as to the facts of the case and their client’s position. Typically the mediator then separates the parties and shuttles back and forth between the two rooms.
Confidentiality is a key component to the mediation process. It allows clients to negotiate without having to worry that if the case doesn’t settle that their statements will be used against them in court. If the case doesn’t settle then the court only knows the parties attended mediation, but the discussions are confidential and not disclosed to the court.
Mediation is completely voluntarily. Although the court might have ordered it, either party is free to walk out at anytime after the mediation has started (not recommended). Most clients go into mediation with a positive attitude and therefore statistically most cases resolve at mediation.
Mediation (and negotiation) is a process, so it usually takes some time for the parties to find middle ground. If an agreement is reached, then a Mediation Agreement and/or Consent Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is drafted addressing all of the terms. The case can then be finalized shortly thereafter without the need for expensive litigation.
Copyright © 2009 Steven A. Leitman
Original posting on 904Divorce.com