In many family law cases, the parties may be required to attend mediation prior to being heard by the judge. Sometimes this news is met with a sigh of annoyance… just one more barrier to getting a “day in court” or “getting this divorce finished.”
You may feel better about it if you consider the reasons for mediation.
- Clarify the issues- in most divorce cases, there is a laundry list of issues. But rarely do the parties disagree on every single issue with the same level of insistence. For instance, they may completely disagree on where the child will live, completely agree about who gets the house, and feel neutral about who gets the living room furniture. Mediation can help by clarifying which issues are disputed and which are not.
- Allow some control- If you and your spouse agree on how to split an asset then the decision is yours. You know what is what, rather than taking a chance in court.
- Create a chance for compromise- Compromise is encouraged in mediation and is seen as a practical decision, not as a weakness.
- Make it emotionally easier on the parties and children- A disputed trial with angry participants is no one’s idea of a good time. Saving all of the family members from that experience and its resulting emotional strain is one of the pluses of mediation.
- Potential savings of time and money- In some cases mediation saves time and money because it can be less time-consuming for the parties and their attorneys.
- Save the Court’s time- Dockets are full in the family law courts. It makes sense for parties to settle what they can outside the courtroom. If going to court is necessary, it is important to bring only the issues which really require the judge’s consideration.
- Teach the parties to make decisions together- This is a new phase in life. But if the parties have minor children together, it will be necessary to work together in raising them. This is a good way to start.
- Set a good example for the children- Even if the children are too young to be told what is happening they will benefit from having parents who can make decisions together.
- Get your point across with respect- Name-calling, shouting, threats and disrespect are not allowed in mediation. This means that each person has an opportunity to talk (and listen) calmly.
- Even if it doesn’t work… Even if the case isn’t settled, the parties and their attorneys usually walk away from the session with a better understanding of what each party wants, why they want it, and which issues are most important to each spouse.