Mediation is a way to resolve legal disputes with the assistance of a neutral, third party. If parties are able to reach a resolution in mediation, they oftentimes can avoid the need to litigate issues related to their case. Sometimes mediation is required before a contested hearing, but it is often requested by parties to reach a resolution before going to court.
If parties can reach a full financial settlement without needing a Judge to divide assets or order maintenance, there is generally less need for enforcement measures to be taken afterwards because the parties voluntarily entered an agreement and have a personal stake in such agreement.
Also, if parents can reach an agreement regarding parenting time, this is usually a better solution for the children than what is ordered by a Judge. A Judge may get to know the parents for a few hours during a final hearing and will almost never meet the children of the family. Parents are generally in a much better position to know what is best for their children in crafting a parenting time schedule.
Mediation can also be a more cost effective way to reach a resolution in a dispute. It can get quite expensive for an attorney to prepare a case for a hearing. Some of the costs include gathering additional discovery, interviewing potential witnesses, issuing subpoenas, preparing exhibits, preparing clients for testimony, and attending the trial itself.
If parties can resolve their issues in a mediation session, both parties generally save money and preserve more of the assets they are litigating for in the first place. Parties not only save in cost, but in time itself. A contested case can last for many months, where a mediated agreement can be drafted and finalized fairly quickly during a mediation session. Both parties will have peace of mind that they are not in limbo until a contested hearing which can be scheduled in the distant future.
Confidential and Non-Binding
Generally, mediation sessions and offers made during mediation, are kept confidential from the public and the Court. There are certain, limited exceptions to this rule, but the confidentiality of mediation is for the benefit of the parties. If both parties believe their offers will not be used against them, they may be more willing to be more flexible and creative with their discussions in an attempt to reach a resolution.
This flexibility and creativity often leads to agreements that both parties can feel satisfied with, and that would not otherwise be ordered by a Judge. It is important for both parties to enter mediation with a certain amount of openness to reach a resolution.
Mediation is also non-binding on the parties. This too is to encourage parties to operate without fearing the outcome of mediation and increase the possibility of reaching a settlement. Once an agreement is put in writing and signed by the parties, it is no longer confidential. It also may, or may not, be binding once it is put in writing.
Control of Parties
As stated above, if parties can reach a mediated agreement they usually feel like they have much more control over their lives than if a Judge, who has only known them for a few hours, enters orders regarding their financial future and parental rights. Furthermore, if parties are able to reach agreements, there generally is less conflict between them as parties, or co-parents in the future.
This is especially important for parents who will likely remain connected for the rest of their lives for the benefit of their children.
The Hulse Law Firm provides mediation services at a reasonable rate with the goal of assisting parties, in a neutral manner, to reach agreements within their case.