Mediation is often beneficial and the only necessary step for many clients. Alison understands that settling out of court will often achieve clients’ goals, avoid resentment and maintain an amicable relationship. Not only can mediation be cost-effective, but the concerned parties can help craft their own solutions without the outside influence of an impartial judge who is unfamiliar with their relationship, children and family dynamic.
During mediation, both parties resolve their issues with the assistance of a neutral third-party. The goal of the mediator is to help the parties work together to identify and implement a solution that works for everyone. You will sit down in a private room and discuss your issues together with your mediator. It may take several sessions, but mediation gives you greater control as there is no judge to decide on your behalf. Because the outcome is not dependent on the facts or legal arguments, the mediator typically does not consider physical evidence or take testimony from witnesses. In fact, parties are encouraged to discuss and agree upon details prior to the meeting with the mediator to save time. If mediation is successful, court appearances and fees can be avoided. Mediation is non-binding and parties retain the right to go to court, if an agreement cannot be reached.
Mediation is an effective form of dispute resolution, allowing you to work cooperatively to find a mutually beneficial outcome. By going to mediation, you and your spouse have all the power to reach an agreement that you think is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.
Once parties have elected to use mediation to settle their differences, they select a mediator, and agree to the time and place for the mediation (often the mediator’s office or another neutral location).
The mediation process then moves through the following stages:
- Mediator’s opening statement, where the mediator fully explains the process, the goals, and the respective roles of all parties
- Disputants’ opening statements, where each party can tell his or her story without interruption
- Joint discussion, where the mediator and the parties identify all the issues that need to be resolved
- Private caucuses (if necessary), where the mediator meets individually with one of the parties, identifying specific needs and works to move the party toward a solution
- Joint negotiation, where the parties openly discuss what they need and what they are willing to give in exchange
- Closing, where the mediator reiterates the agreements of the parties and discusses how the process will move forward
If the parties agree on a solution, the mediator summarizes the agreement in writing. Each party signs the written agreement and may have an attorney review it. The parties also may create and sign a legally binding contract.
If the parties do not reach an agreement, the mediator reviews the progress made, and the parties can meet again at another time, arbitrate or go to court.
Alison has been trained in mediation since law school. She is also able to facilitate communication between attorneys and experts and case manage matters to avoid court and litigation.
The better you communicate with your spouse during this difficult time, generally the better you will communicate with him in the future.