Law Office of Li-Shann Durst
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What kinds of family law cases are mediated?

Any type of family law case may be mediated. If there is a disagreement over custody of minor children, parenting time with minor children, child or 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 to address a family abuse.

What happens at the end of family law mediation?

If the parties in mediation of custody and parenting time issues reach an agreement, the mediator will usually draw up an agreement that the parties sign.  The agreement may be used to settle pending court cases.

Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third party works with the individuals to help them discuss their situation and move toward a mutually acceptable resolution.  Mediation offers more alternatives and is more responsive to the needs of the individuals than litigation.  Mediation provides an opportunity for parties to communicate with one another, to better understand their situation, and to make steps to improve it.  Many types of common disputes simply do not raise a legal claim that you can take 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


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


Usually the least expensive model

Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly


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 Lawyers

The mediator operates as a neutral to facilitate an agreement

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


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 lawyers; no process designed to facilitate communication with your spouse

To find out more about Mediation, call our Ashburn, VA office at (703) 443-4762 or Schedule a Consultation.