Mediation is a process in which an independent, neutral, impartial individual (the Mediator) assists opposing parties to achieve an amicable settlement of the contested issues. The Mediator does not make any decisions for the parties; the decision to settle lies solely within the parties’ control. The Mediator does not give legal advice to either side, even if the Mediator is an attorney. The Mediator’s role is to facilitate the negotiation process by assisting in communication between the parties, identifying the issues, exploring alternatives, and preparing a formal document to memorialize agreements.
Mediation has been generally encouraged by the Courts before a final hearing/trial will be conducted, and now it is more often mandatory. Mediation has several advantages for the parties, including:
Mediation provides the parties a means to act in the best interests of themselves, their children, and the family unit (which will continue to exist in some form, despite divorce or separation), to bring a known finality to their current disputes. Mediation provides an economical and efficient path to resolution that may not be possible through litigation, all with a reduction of the emotional stress associated with court appearances. Through mediation, the parties, not the court, make the decision. And, generally speaking, most parties are more satisfied, and more likely to follow, an order that is based upon their agreement than an order that is forced upon them after contentious litigation, thereby reducing future conflict.