What To Expect In Mediation: How A Mediator Outside Of Court Can Aid You

What Is Mediation, Who Is Involved, & What Are The Benefits?

Mediation is a beneficial resolution designed to shorten legal processes and disputes. There are court-ordered mediations and there are private mediations. Today, we are looking at the benefits of private mediation, particularly with regards to family law and divorce.

When two parties settle a dispute outside of court it creates less congestion on court calendars, and most importantly, less congestion on yours. Mediation permits two parties who are solving a legal problem to invite an objective third party to help them settle out of court. But before meeting with a mediator, each party decides on what they want from their divorce or breakup with their lawyers. You will need to think about the whole situation and what that entails. Here are some of the agreements you will have the opportunity to evaluate and make decisions on:

  1. Division of marital assets
  2. Child custody calculations
  3. Visitation Schedule
  4. Spousal Support
  5. Debt Allocation

This is a step that many people don’t realize is an excellent opportunity. It is an invitation for legal empowerment. What do you want and what do you deserve moving forward? What is in the best interest of your children? Maybe Parent A is anxious to talk to Parent B because, in the past, they were hostile towards them. Maybe Parent B is frustrated because Parent A won’t express their finances accurately. Maybe there are nonlegal issues that are affecting both of their decisions. In court, a judge would not review nonlegal issues. In mediation, these topics are welcomed and often solved. Whatever roadblocks prevented mature conversation in the past will be eased with a professional unifier, and both parties will consider each other’s viewpoints.

Both parties meet with the certified state-registered mediator. It is suggested that you wear business casual attire. Mediators are often retired judges or attorneys and have extensive experience and knowledge of the law. They promote solutions in a timely and cost-affective manor, they promote collaboration and compromise, and they bridge communication styles. Divorce agreements can be more creative in mediation because the authority is in the hands of the divorcees rather than a random judge. Mediators do not give legal advice. They are not judging because it is not their job. Additionally, mediation is not binding.

Former Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Gladys Kessler recognized that solving disputes or matters that traditionally would be settled in court said, “Litigants might be able to resolve disputes with less expense, more satisfaction, and less acrimony if alternatives were available to the adversarial process.”(1988)1. Over 40 years later this still stands true. Mediation is not only a common way to prevent continued litigation, but it is also an opportunity to create and win better outcomes that a judge wouldn’t grant.

Here are some general questions Georgia provides that offer alternative ways to view the situation which may make mediation easier for all parties.

  1. As you think back on the dispute, what is the heart of the matter for you?
  2. How do you think the events that gave rise to the dispute looked to the other people involved? What would you have done in their shoes? What would help you understand their perspectives better?
  3. What factors beyond the control of the parties to the case contributed to the dispute?
  4. What might you have done differently if you had the opportunity to go back and relive the relevant events?
  5. Assuming anything is possible, what would you like to talk about at the mediation? What do you think the other participants would want to discuss?
  6. What are the practical concerns that inform your perspective on settlement?
  7. What other concerns are relevant to your thinking about settlement?
  8. What would it feel like to have the dispute over? What would a fair resolution of the dispute look like to you?
  9. What would it feel like to have the case proceed? And end favorably to you? Unfavorably?

If mediation is not effective and the two parties still can’t agree, then they have the right to trial or to pursue other arbitration. But the benefit of a confident and established lawyer with an excellent record is that you will likely not go to court. They will give you your voice back and do everything to support you on your behalf.

This is the time to stand up for what you are worth and for what your child or children deserve. Nishit Patel has extensive experience with working out the uncomfortable yet essential topics of divorce with a mediator. Call today to set up an appointment.

  1. Kessler, G. and Finkelstein, L.J. (1988). The Evolution of a Multi-Door Courthouse. Catholic University
    Law Review, 37(3), 577-578.
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