By Sara Pitcher
In some divorce and child custody cases, the parties are ordered to attend mediation by the court. In others, the parties agree to attend mediation in an attempt to reach a divorce settlement agreement without the need for a hearing.
Either way, parties considering or preparing for mediation may have a lot of questions about what to expect from a family law mediation.
Mediation is a way to attempt to resolve some or all of the pending issues without the need for a hearing. The parties will typically attend mediation with their divorce attorney, if they have one.
Typically, in family law situations, the parties will be placed in separate rooms and the mediator will go back and forth between the rooms. You will remain in one room with your divorce lawyer and the mediator will come in, explain the process of mediation, and start with getting your side of the situation.
The mediator may even review any questions he may have about the information contained in your confidential mediation statement. The mediator will get your position and then leave the room. He will then go to the other party’s room and do the same thing with her.
Divorce Mediation 101:How To Prepare For Mediation
The mediator will also discuss your initial offer or position and get the opposing party's thoughts and her proposal. It may seem as if the mediator has been gone for quite a while. He will spend a good deal of time with each party and attempt to understand each of their respective positions.
In order to help bring the parties to an agreeable resolution of the issues, the mediator will often try to understand why each party holds their respective position or opinion.
In some rare instances, it is possible for the mediator to begin the mediation with the parties in a joint session and allow opening statements by the parties or their divorce attorneys.
Since family law is a highly sensitive field, most times the mediator will elect to forgo this to avoid placing the parties in one room together.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation can be a cost saving method to resolve a case. Hearings can be very lengthy and require additional preparation time and expense.
Additionally, the resolution at the hearing may not be as satisfactory to you as an agreement you can negotiate through mediation or informal settlement. Agreements negotiated through mediation can be creative and encompass terms or provision which would not be included in an order following a hearing.
Since the mediated agreement will be submitted to the judge for approval, once the judge signs the agreement, it also becomes an order of the court.
The parties, through mediation, are given more time and flexibility to craft an agreement which meets both of their demands while orders following a hearing rarely do so.
What should I wear to mediation?
It is possible that you may never see the opposing party or her attorney at the mediation. However, in order to present yourself in the best light, it is best to dress at least business casual for the mediation.
The mediation may be one of the first times opposing counsel has an opportunity to see you in person. When they see you, they will likely be sizing you up to determine whether they believe you would present well in court and appear to be a credible witness.
If opposing counsel believes you will present well in court and be a good witness, they are more likely to try to settle the case without the need for a hearing.
For this reason, you put yourself in the best bargaining position by arriving in professional attire. For men this can include slacks and a dress shirt. A tie is not necessary but may be appropriate.
While it is possible that you may not see opposing counsel while at the mediation, it is best to be prepared and dress appropriately.
Related Divorce Mediation Articles:
- Meet With Your Divorce Attorney Prior To Mediation For Better Results
- What Is The Mediator’s Role in Divorce Mediation?
- Who Can Be Present At My Mediation?