What is Family Mediation?
Family mediation, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, is often the best tool to resolve pending or contemplated family law matters, such as divorce or paternity. During the family mediation process, the parties, and in many circumstances their attorneys, come together and work with a family law mediator, a neutral, third party, whose job it is to bring each party a little closer to the middle, brainstorm creative and mutually beneficial solutions, and encourage settlement.
The family law mediator is not a Judge or attorney for either party, does not give legal advice, and does not take either party’s side. Instead, the family law mediator is responsible for helping the parties reach an agreement to settle either part or all of a divorce or family law matter. An effective family law mediator can help the parties work through issues by focusing on principals, not emotions.
The Benefits of Family Mediation
By resolving your case at Family Mediation, you can come to your own agreement, with custom terms and solutions, specific to your family and goals, and avoid both the financial and emotional cost of litigation or going to trial. In Family Mediation, you can decide your own destiny, instead of leaving the decision to a Judge.
Almost everything discussed in mediation is confidential, meaning the other party, attorneys, and family law mediator cannot tell the Court what was discussed. By resolving your case in a confidential environment, without trial, the parties can be honest about the facts, circumstances, and goals, without having to compromise legal positions. By resolving matters in mediation, parties can avoid having to expose sensitive details about their family, finances, business, and personal life in a public court room or public court filings.
Family Mediation is a great space to resolve issues such as visitation or time-sharing, child custody or parental responsibility, alimony, equitable distribution, child support, attorney’s fees, and more. Family Mediation may also be appropriate for purposes of establishing terms for a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, and other family related financial and estate planning decisions.
While not all matters can be resolved, most cases end up settling in family mediation – limiting collateral damage to children and families, saving money, maintaining privacy, and providing a roadmap forward toward a brighter future.
The Family Mediation Process
Family Mediation is a fairly informal process: the parties, attorneys, and family law mediator work together to negotiate and resolve the issues associated with a divorce or family law matter. In most jurisdictions, family mediation sessions can be conducted in person, over the phone, or by Zoom or other video chat technology. The details of the mediation session may be court ordered or by agreement of the parties. Mediation may be required or may be completely voluntary.
Ideally, the parties arrive at the mediation session having already exchanged “discovery,” or information with each other, and are ready to negotiate. From there, the parties may be in one room together or in separate rooms with the mediator going back-and-forth between the rooms (or virtual rooms). If you have an attorney representing you at mediation, you can always ask for privacy to discuss with that attorney any questions, concerns, or ideas you have, that you do not want to disclose to the family mediator or other parties, and then rejoin the mediation session.
If family mediation is successful and the parties agree to settle some or all of the issues, the parties execute a mediated settlement agreement. If the parties don’t come to an agreement on any or all of the issues, they can try to mediate or settle again, or proceed to a trial on the issues that remain.
Hiring a Family Law Mediator
If you are looking to hire a Family Law Mediator to help you resolve your divorce or family law matter, you can obtain more information by sending an email with your name and contact details to: Mediation@BrowardLegal.com
If you are represented by counsel, you can ask your attorney to recommend one of our Family Law mediators to the Court or the other party’s attorney and contact us for scheduling information.
Consult with a Family Law Attorney Before Mediation
Family law proceedings are often complex and overwhelming, and a mediator cannot give legal advice to the parties. In order to best protect your rights and interests, you should hire an experienced family law attorney to prepare for and represent you at your mediation. At the minimum, you should consult with an attorney to help you determine what your legal rights and responsibilities may be, so you can be better prepared to negotiate and decide if a settlement proposal is fair. Consulting with an attorney prior to mediation can help you ensure that your prior case filings, or case record, has the foundation necessary to obtain your ultimate goals and keep you focused on getting the relief you actually need as opposed to making decisions out of anger or emotion. An experienced family law attorney can also educate you – not only concerning the legal intricacies of your case, but also regarding the cost of taking your case to trial if you do not settle. With the knowledge and experience of a family law attorney on your side, you will be best equipped to make decisions about your case and future.
To speak to an experienced Attorney with Levinson & Capuano, LLC about representation at Mediation contact Info@BrowardLegal.com or (954) 703-2110.