Litigation in family law cases, where emotions often run high, can be costly and drag on for months or even years. Mediation provides an alternative to resolving family law disputes that may save the parties time and money.
Whether you are just starting your legal case or have already begun the court process, mediation may be a viable option. A Crabapple mediation lawyer at our firm can explain the goals and procedures for alternative dispute resolution and help you decide how to move forward with your case.
Mediation is a process by which parties who might otherwise have to litigate their case may attempt to resolve their dispute without going to court. This form of alternative dispute resolution encourages a collaborative approach to problem-solving. During mediation, a neutral third party trained in various forms of dispute resolution helps spouses or parents compromise on disputed legal issues.
You can address numerous family law matters during a mediation session, including but not limited to:
You may engage in mediation before filing a formal case and at any time prior to a judge’s final decision in your case. In some cases, mediation is helpful when disputes arise after a divorce or custody case is already over. For example, if one parent wishes to relocate with their children after a judge issues a custody order, the parties may attend mediation in an effort to develop a new parenting plan without going back to court for litigation.
State law mandates divorcing spouses to attend mediation as long as the parties retain separate legal representation and there is no history of family violence between them. For other family law cases, a judge can order the parties to mediate their issues before scheduling a court hearing or trial. An experienced lawyer in Crabapple can explain what to expect during the mediation process and help you prepare for meetings with the assigned mediator.
Before mediation can take place, a mediator must be assigned to facilitate discussion between the parties so they can make joint decisions whenever possible. The mediator is not authorized to make legally binding decisions, and the final outcome is up to the parties. A mediator does not ‘take sides’ but instead remains neutral throughout the process, listening to both parties’ concerns and guiding them toward a mutually beneficial compromise.
When a judge orders mediation in a family law case, they will generally select a mediator from a court-approved list or delegate the decision to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) office. If the parties choose to attend mediation voluntarily, they may select a mediator themselves. A local lawyer would be familiar with many experienced mediators in the Crabapple area and can recommend someone capable of handling your case skillfully and objectively.
By choosing mediation, you may save time, money, and, most importantly, your emotional energy. Mediation can be especially beneficial in custody and visitation disputes, as it allows parents to remain civil with one another for their child’s sake. If you and your ex, or another family member, are facing a family law dispute, an experienced Crabapple mediation lawyer can facilitate the selection of a mediator and guide you through the dispute resolution process. Call today to learn more.