Choosing a mediator is becoming more and more popular nowadays because of the helpful role they can play in domestic relations disagreements, whether they concern divorce, child custody or visitation issues. While couples usually seek mediation voluntarily, occasionally it may be ordered by the judge if settlement is proving hard to achieve.
So what is mediation and what is it not?
Mediation attempts to resolve a legal dispute between two parties through active participation of a professional mediator, acting as a third party. It should not be confused with ‘arbitration’ in which the third party adopts a role similar to that of an out-of-court judge, without actively participating in the dialogue.
Mediation is not a form of counselling to restore a relationship; hence, the assumption is that the couple seeking it has agreed to part.
Although professional mediation can be costly, it considerably reduces the duration of the court proceedings, which tend to be more pricey and can be emotionally exhausting. Prior mediation can lead to an early settlement, thanks to which a couple can avoid a lengthy court trial.
It should be emphasised that a mediation process is entirely impartial. While mediators participate in the discussion, they do this solely in order to elicit a mutual agreement, rather than to take sides. As a result, there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ at the end of mediation; instead there is a feasible compromise regarding the matters discussed.
What you say in mediation remains strictly confidential, unless both sides agree to share it with a third party. If a mediation process turns out to be unsuccessful, the matters discussed cannot be used in court, except for facts concerning income and property. Nevertheless, a mediator has the right to involve police or social services, should they decide a child or an adult is exposed to harm.
The main benefit of mediation is that it improves communication between both partners; it resolves misunderstandings, reducing tension and the feelings of anger that are commonly experienced. As previously mentioned, an agreement achieved in the course of mediation means an earlier settlement, so costs and time spent on court proceedings will be reduced.
Not all issues can be resolved by a mediator, however at least they will be addressed in a professional manner and in the presence of a third party. While facing the other side during the process can be traumatic, the general aim is to focus on the future rather than the past in order to reach a reasonable and fair compromise. Even though it isn’t applicable to every case, there is much to be gained from trying mediation. family mediation near me