At some point in your divorce case, you will attend mediation before a trial or final hearing. So what is family law mediation?
Family law mediation is a process where both parties, their lawyers if they have them, and a mediator attempt to negotiate a resolution to all outstanding issues in the case. The mediation can be face to face or in separate rooms with the mediator moving back and forth between the parties, which is my preferred method.
What is family law mediation?
In mediation, you can settle all the issues in your case, some of the issues, or none of the issues. Whatever issues are unresolved will be remediated if there is a possibility of settlement or decided by the court. If you resolve all issues in mediation, a mediated settlement agreement is signed by the parties and presented to the court at the final hearing ending your case.
A very high percentage, well into the 90th percent, of family law cases, settle before trial. Cases settle either through mediation or negotiation between the attorneys. Those few cases where the parties absolutely can not resolve outstanding issues will proceed to trial.
When is family law mediaiton?
So when does mediation occur? I like to set mediations after all financial disclosures, and all other discovery is complete. At that point, I am most familiar with the issues of the case and have an idea of what my trial posture would be.
How is family law mediation?
The theory behind mediation, or settlement in general, is that the people involved in the case know the issues better than the court and are best able to resolve those issues between themselves. A judge is only familiar with your case for the time it is before the court, which is not long. It is better for you to make the decisions that affect the rest of your life, having lived your case, than for a judge to make those decisions knowing little about you.
Studies show that people who settle their cases through mediation or direct settlement are happier with the outcome than those who proceed to a trial and have a judge make the decisions for them. There is also a cost factor associated. Preparing for trial is expensive, very expensive, not only in attorney’s fees but for trial exhibits, transcripts, experts, and other expenses.
The question I get all the time about mediation is “Will you be there with me?” Yes, I will always be with you at mediation.
If you have any questions about mediation or family law in general, please feel free to contact me and speak directly to me.
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