In most divorce or domestic relations cases, mediation is usually required before the case goes before a judge. Mediation is defined as an intervention in dispute negotiations by a trained neutral third party, the mediator, with the purpose of assisting the parties to reach their own solution. Many clients often ask questions about the mediation process such as, what is the role of the mediator, what is the role of my attorney, what happens if an agreement is not reached, and what happens if an agreement is reached.
The key role of the mediator is to help participants identify any and all issues in their matter and then to discuss ways to settle those issues. The mediator will try to choose options that are in each of the party’s interest and, if children are involved, the best interest of the children. However, the mediator does not have decision making authority like a judge or an arbitrator and they cannot impose sanctions or penalties.Your lawyer can play an essential role in the mediation process. They are usually familiar with the mediators and can help choose a mediator that is best suited to your particular circumstances. Your attorney will explain the process and help you know what to expect. They will attend the mediation with you and advise you on items like money issues, timing, effects on existing relationships, confidentially and privacy, scope of relief, statutes of limitations, and relevant procedural rules and statutes. Your attorney will work to reach an agreement that will be as good as if not better than what you might receive in a courtroom.If the parties are able to come to an agreement, the mediator will provide a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU is the agreement in writing, approved and signed by the parties and their attorneys, if any. The MOU can then be filed as a stipulation, and, if approved by the Court, will be enforceable as an order of the Court.Complete agreement doesn’t have to be reached during the mediation process. You may only be able to agree on some things. If so, a MOU can be written up, and any remaining areas of dispute will be heard before the court. Sometimes no agreement can be reached, in which case the entire matter is heard and decided by a judge.Mediation can be a positive experience where you have some control over the decision making process instead of a judge making all the decisions in your case. The attorneys at the Family Law Group can help guide you through the mediation process and answer any questions you may have in your specific case. The Family Law Group is here to help you map a route through life’s journey.-Chris* This is not considered legal advice, and the legal system constantly changes. If you want current and accurate legal advice, please contact our office and arrange to speak with an attorney. 719-687-2328