Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with the assistance of a neutral professional.
At this point in time, you can expect that if you choose the litigation process to dissolve your marriage or resolve other legal disputes, you will be engaged in the mediation process at some point. In family court, it is mandatory and absolutely required by most judges before you can ever get your first hearing on any temporary issues that you need resolved during the proceeding.
Linda I. Braithwaite has been a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator since 1998 and has helped hundreds of parties resolve their family law disputes. She is trained in working with difficult situations. Ms. Braithwaite acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. She helps the parties think outside of the box for possible solutions to the dispute, broadening the range of possible solutions.
She is willing to mediate for parties represented by attorneys or unrepresented, and also encourages parties to consider mediation prior to ever filing any legal action, whether an initial or post-judgment proceedings.
The benefits of mediation include:
Court proceedings and the documents filed in a court case are public while mediation remains strictly confidential. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, whether full or partial, the mediator files an “impasse” which only states that there was no agreement. It does not and cannot state why an agreement could not be reached. Confidentiality in mediation has such importance that in most cases the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of mediation. There are exceptions such as the statutory reporting requirements involving child and elder abuse or actual or threatened criminal acts.
While a mediator may charge a fee comparable to that of an attorney, typically between $200-$350 per hour, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. A litigation case in the hands of the court process may take months or years to resolve. However, mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of hours. At times, it may be necessary to engage in more than one mediate to get all issues fully resolved but nevertheless, taking less time to resolve your case means spending less money on hourly fees and costs.
Mediation significantly increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides solely with the judge. More often than not, a judge cannot legally provide the variety of solutions and options that can emerge through the mediation process. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.
Fewer Problems in the Future
Because the result of a successful mediation is an agreement attained by the parties working together, it is more likely that each party will comply with the mediated agreement. This further reduces costs, because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to force compliance with the agreement.