Family Mediation: How Does It Work? What Can I Expect?
What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is a tool that is used by the court system. It is utilized in situations where the parties are not in agreement on some or all of the issues of their divorce, custody arrangement, or other legal matter. The format is informal, taking place in a conference room or similar space, with a mediation specialist leading and guiding the process.
The goal of mediation is to try to bring the parties together in one final attempt, or on one of several attempts, to help the parties come to a mutual agreement about all the issues in their case. Family mediation is commonly used in resolving matters of divorce, and child custody including but not limited to: legal custody, time sharing arrangements, holidays, transportation’s and vacations.
Is Mediation Required?
If your mediation is court-ordered, then your participation in the mediation is mandatory. There is no way that you can get out of mediation that has been scheduled without a judges approval. However, it’s important to remember that just because your attendance at mediation is required, it does not mean that you must come to an agreement during this time. We do suggest that each party make their best attempt at coming to an agreement, as this is the only way to ensure that you have a say in the final outcome. However, mediation can occur in multiple sessions if need be, and in no way requires a resolution upon its completion.
What is the role of the Mediation Specialist?
The mediation specialist serves as a neutral party. They are not there to take sides. They are not there to persuade either party in any way. They’re not there to force you into any sort of an agreement. They are there simply to be a neutral party that will guide the parties towards what they are there to achieve – a mutual agreement. Remember no one in a family case, custody case, visitation case, or a support case is ever going to come away one hundred percent happy. Each party will to have to compromise at times in order to find a middle ground that is mutually beneficial. This is where the role of the mediator comes in, to help each party find the middle ground where they are able come to an agreement.
What Happens After Mediation?
If an agreement is reached, the mediator will write a report that outlines the terms of the agreement. The parties then have the option to sign the report immediately, or to have it reviewed by an attorney. I always recommend that the agreement be reviewed and discussed with an attorney at a later date. We often see parties that after signing an agreement during mediation find later that they felt pressured, nervous, or simply tired and just agreed without thinking it through. Taking time for an attorney’s review will ensure that there’s nothing in the agreement that could harm you, that you may not really want, or that you’ve since changed your mind about. Once the agreement has been thoroughly reviewed, and both parties are happy with it, it must be signed and filed with the court as an official court document and court-ordered agreement.
Mediation can be hard and can sometimes cause stressful and difficult conversations. It’s important to remember, though, that mediation is a confidential meeting. Anything that you say and anything that you discuss will be confidential. It will not be shared with anyone outside the room.
If you are considering divorce, a separation, or any other Family Law matter, do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your situation in detail. Our team can help to provide answers to your questions, as well as identify your options and a path for moving forward. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at (702) 998-1188, firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a consultation online.