Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, where a neutral mediator facilitates the resolution by assisting in communication and focusing on the parties’ individual and common needs and interests. Both spouses provide documentation in support of and discuss their respective positions regarding disputed issues, while the mediator works with both sides in an attempt to find a resolution. Mediation allows both parties to negotiate and control the outcome of their divorce in a less adversarial way, rather than have the outcome imposed on them by a judge. Unlike judges, a mediator has no authority to make decisions, and the mediator’s role is not to give advice or take sides. For this reason, you may prefer to be represented by counsel while in mediation, and the attorney can attend mediation session or give advice outside of the joint mediation sessions.
Financial and parenting issues can be the subject of mediation. Mediation is required when there are parenting issues before litigation; however, there are both free county services or private mediators available. Financial issues can be mediated by agreement or a judge may order this to occur. In some cases, there are partial agreements, which still minimizes the need for overall litigation. Mediators may be selected by agreement or appointed by the judge. In any case where there is joint decision making in a final judgment, a mediator must be named in a parenting agreement, who the parties must go to in the event of post-judgment disputes, before returning to court.
Mediation may occur even before a divorce case is filed with the court, and the case is then filed and completed once a complete agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding, is drafted. If there is an agreement reached in mediation and it is signed by the the parties, a court can enforce that agreement even if one party later changes their mind.
Mediation is not appropriate in every case, such as in cases where there has been domestic violence; however, when couples choose this method, it can lead to a compromise and can save money and time if both parties are committed to the process. Mediation can also lead to a better co-parenting relationship for the years ahead. Mediation may also be recommended for high net worth families, where the parties can retain joint financial experts, where each party feels the process is fair and transparent and much less costly than contested litigation.
The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson provides mediation services to help clients reach a fair and amicable settlement, as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. There are three ways The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson LLC guides clients through this process: 1) counseling clients while they engage a neutral mediator, 2) acting as the mediator and then referring the parties to a lawyer(s) to draft and/or review the required court paperwork, or 3) drafting or reviewing the paperwork after a client has gone through the mediation process and have a full agreement. Erin works hard to ensure clients going through the mediation process feel protected in a confidential forum.