Did you know that most people who are dealing with family legal issues like divorce resolve them outside of court? With some exceptions, all cases are required to try and mediate the dispute before being tried in court. Most cases settle completely, or at least resolve the bulk of disputed issues. Only a small percentage of divorce cases actually go to trial. These typically include complicated, high-asset divorces or divorces involving allegations of abuse or violence, but not always.
Knowing more about the mediation process can help you prepare for your divorce and the potential challenges that may arise.
What is mediation?
Mediation is one method of alternative dispute resolution. In advance of making your case in front of a judge who will make a unilateral decision about the disputed issues in your divorce, you meet with your soon-to-be ex and a neutral mediator who will help you find your own solutions.
What are the benefits to mediation?
Generally speaking, mediation is faster and less costly than litigation. This is because you are not at the mercy of court schedules and expenses.
Mediation also allows parties to have more control over highly personal and sensitive issues. Rather than leaving decisions like child custody and visitation in the hands of a stranger, parties can work out solutions that best fit their situation.
Parties are generally happier and more compliant with terms they had a hand in designing.
The process, at a glance
Mediation may be completed in one session, but may require multiple meetings, depending on how much you accomplish during each session. You might work with your ex and the mediator to negotiate custody schedules, support agreements, division of assets, and other key issues.
Once you have settlement terms in place, a judge will review it and approve it, barring any legal issues or concerns. If the judge does not approve an agreement, then he or she may send it back for more discussion.
If parties cannot resolve all the issues at hand, then the case will go to trial for resolution on those unresolved issues only.
Considering how much is at stake when it comes to family legal matters, it can be a wise decision to consult an attorney who can guide you through the system and help you secure a fair resolution. Whether you do this through mediation or litigation, a family law attorney can explain your options and protect your rights.