Mediation is a process where the opposing parties to case and their attorneys meet with a neutral third-party mediator who is trained in dispute resolution. The sole goal of the mediator is to help the parties reach agreements on their disputed issues without the involvement of the court. All communications that occur during mediation are confidential, meaning that anything said cannot be used in a future proceeding. Unlike a Judge, a mediator does not have the power to make a final, binding decision.
During mediation, the mediator helps the parties communicate effectively about what is most important to them in order to help them reach agreements amicably. Mediation can be done in two ways- with both parties in the same room or through a process called shuttle mediation, where each party and their attorneys are in different rooms, and the mediator travels from room to room. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, most mediations occur via an online video platform.
Mediation is an excellent means for parties to a divorce or child custody case to resolve their disputes quickly and inexpensively. Mediation removes the need for Court involvement in your case, leaving the power to control the intimate details of your family life in your own hands. Mediation is a useful tool for parties to a divorce or child custody case most of the time, however, it is not appropriate in every instance.
Mediation is not appropriate in situations where there is a history of domestic or sexual abuse between the parties. A victim of abuse often lacks confidence to freely express their opinions or confidently speak their mind, and their partner exploits that. This creates a power imbalance between the parties that does not allow for a fair agreement or settlement to be reached.
If you have been the victim of domestic or sexual abuse, or if you feel there is a considerable power imbalance between you and your partner, mediation is likely not an appropriate mechanism to resolve your divorce or child custody case.
Most family law courts typically order parties to a divorce or child custody dispute to mediate prior to having a hearing in front of the Judge. If you are a victim of domestic or sexual abuse, it is important that you to have a competent attorney on your side who can protect your interests and ensure you have control over the outcome in your case.