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Mediation

Mediation

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What kinds of family law cases are mediated?

Any type of family law case may be mediated such as disagreement over custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, allocation of debt, or the distribution of assets.  The parties may call on a mediator to help them resolve these issues.  Mediation is available whether or not the parents of minor children were married, and it is available to resolve disputes with grandparents.  The courts encourage mediation of disputes in family law cases, because the court process is often lengthy and more often than not, someone loses.  Mediation is not normally used in situations involving domestic violence or family abuse.

What's involved in the mediation process?

Mediations begin with the parties signing a Mediation Agreement. The Mediator will explain the process, lay out the ground rules for the mediation, and explain the mediator’s role. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties, but helps the parties find resolutions that are mutually acceptable. Each session usually begins with an agenda and parties often need to prepare for the mediation by collecting the necessary paperwork. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator may memorialize their agreement in a written contract.

What happens at the end of family law mediation?

An attorney mediator will reflect the terms of the parties' agreement in a property settlement agreement or marital settlement agreement. If questions are raised during a legal review, the parties can agree to return to mediation to discuss the issues and finalize the agreement, if necessary. The parties can waive a legal review and agree to a binding contract in the mediation. This agreement may be used to settle pending court cases.

Mediation is a private process in which a neutral person or mediator helps the parties discuss and try to resolve their dispute. The parties have the opportunity to describe the issues, discuss their interests, understandings, and feelings; provide each other with information and explore ideas for the resolution of their dispute.  Courts often mandate family law cases to mediation; however, the mediation process is voluntary. 

Mediation attorney Li-Shann Durst focuses on resolving family law issues using alternative dispute resolution methods which she believes are more responsive to the needs of a family going through divorce rather than litigation.  Mediation provides an opportunity for parties to better communicate with one another, to gain understanding and to make informed decisions.  Many types of common disputes simply do not raise a legal claim that can be taken to court.  Disputes between family members, employees, or neighbors are sometimes of this type.  Fortunately, mediation is available even when courts are not.

Mediation vs. Litigation

 MEDIATIONLITIGATION

Who Controls the Process?

You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions

Judge controls process and makes final decisions if no agreement

Degrees of Adversity

You and your spouse work in a respectful and open environment

Court is an adversarial process

Cost

Usually the least expensive model

Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly

Timetable

You and your spouse create the timetable

Judge sets the timetable; often delays due to crowded court calendars

Use of Outside Experts

Jointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions 

Separate experts hired to support each person's position, often at great expense to each

Involvement of Mediation Lawyer

The mediator operates as a neutral to facilitate an agreement

Lawyers fight to win, often at great emotional and financial expense, but someone loses

Privacy

The process and discussions or negotiation details are kept private

Dispute becomes a matter of public record and, sometimes, media attention

Voluntary vs. Mandatory

Voluntary - process is outside of court

Mandatory if no agreement

Lines of Communication

You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance of the mediator

You and your spouse negotiate through your mediation lawyers; no process designed to facilitate communication with your spouse

To find out more about Mediation and to speak with a mediation attorney, call the law firm of Li-Shann Durst in Ashburn, VA at (703) 443-4762 or Schedule a Consultation.