mediation_notMediation is an opportunity to work with a trained impartial person to structure a clear path forward for your family. It is voluntary, confidential, and lets you direct the outcome by involving skilled professionals, exploring creative avenues, and moving forward confidently and with control over the resolution.

Mediation will save both time and money if you are invested in the process. You should come to mediation prepared to share information in a confidential setting, ask the difficult questions, and be creative, exploring all options, including those that a court cannot entertain. Mediation will take some time, but if you put forth the effort, it can yield a result much faster than the court system. Because many family courts require mediation prior to scheduling a trial, it benefits you to engage in the process early, and set the tone by choosing a mediator that fits your family rather than letting a judge choose for you. Because it is voluntary, you can end the process at any time if it is not working for you.

Getting Married?

Mediation is not simply about resolving a dispute. It is also about learning and building communication skills that will help couples in their future relationship. Marriage can be more successful if you start your union with a discussion about your expectations, finances, and marital roles. Many couples have these discussions, but some may benefit by using a third party neutral to help facilitate this conversation and assist couples in examining questions that they may have never considered. If the couple is contemplating a premarital or prenuptial agreement, mediation can be a safe space to have this discussion, generate ideas and examine expectations. A trained mediator can assist everyone in gathering and sharing information to reach everyone’s goals. While mediators cannot give advice, the mediator can help educate, and help generate creative solutions for the couple moving forward.

Disputes During Your Relationship?

While mediation is not therapy or couples counseling, it is a process that can be used during your relationship to help you bridge disputes. If small disputes are left unresolved, they can grow and debilitate your relationship. Using a trained professional, you can explore your dispute in a safe space and come to a mutual understanding on how to move forward as a productive, stronger couple.

Separating or Divorcing?

Unfortunately, if your relationship ends in separation or divorce, there are issues that must be resolved. A mediator can help you understand all of the issues, discuss options, and work towards your mutual goals to avoid costly and emotionally draining litigation.

Reconciling?

If a couple wants to reconcile, they may need a discussion to establish new guidelines for their relationship, and manage their expectations from the outset. Having this discussion may help the couple, and the larger family, approach the next stage of their relationship with certainty and from a place of mutual understanding.

Parenting Disputes?

One of the most common reasons for a break-up is a couple’s inability to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. When your family grows to include children, the number of potential conflicts increases, as does the financial strain attached to having children, and the diminished resources (less time, less intimacy, changing priorities, and changing identities). A mediator can help you discuss conflicts as they arise and reach decisions that will help you co-parent in the future. Whether your parenting disputes occur while you are in an in-tact family or after your family separates, conflict has the opportunity to reach a point where it is not only impacting you, but impacting your children.

International Families?

Mediation is an excellent tool for global families when that family spans multiple countries and legal systems. Global families tend to have complex situations that need creative solutions. Many courts do not have the tools or ability to craft a tailor-made solution for global families, and many legal systems do not have the ability to consider the unique situations in which many global families find themselves (frequent moves, international travel, passports, immigration, etc.) Many families have found a court order, after a several day trial, to be inadequate to address the family’s situation and future needs. Mediation can provide the space to share concerns, consider creative options, and involve other people and professionals to reach a more sustainable plan for your family in the years to come.

Blending Your Family?

If you are part of a blended family, mediation can help you work within your newly formed family structure to address critical issues, such as communication difficulties, rules and guidelines in your home, introduction of new family members, and the roles each will take in discipline and household tasks.

Online Dispute Resolution

Mediation is flexible and is a process that can be structured in any way that works best for your family. If cost, travel, schedules, or other circumstances make it difficult or impractical to meet in person, a trained mediator can skillfully work with your family to structure a process where people can participate remotely, something not always available in courts. In situations where there is a power imbalance or high emotional tensions, this distance may also provide a cooling down and a more productive level of communication, which is very important for two parents who will need to have ongoing interaction in the future if they have children.

Why Mediation? – Frequently Asked Questions

The cost will depend on the amount of work you are willing to do outside of mediation sessions, whether your mediator drafts any final term sheet or agreement, whether you involve other professionals, and the number of sessions you need to comprehensively move your family forward. Despite the cost, mediation is historically much less expensive than going through the full court process to a final trial. Even more, mediation is less physically and emotionally exhausting than engaging in litigation, and more private for your family. Mediation is more flexible and can move faster than many courts, so there is also a savings in time, and a clearer path to closure.

Mediation is a voluntary process. Both people need to agree to go to mediation and, to get the most benefit, both people need to be engaged in the process. Since mediation is voluntary, if you start the mediation process, and it is not a fit for your family, you can end mediation at any time.

Mediation may be appropriate for you. A skilled mediator can help structure the process so that you do not have to interact directly with the other person, and ensure precautions are put in place prior to any session to maximize your comfort and safety. A mediator, while mandated to keep information in the mediation confidential, may disclose credible threats of harm to ensure everyone’s safety. Mediation, in many ways, may be a safer space than a courtroom, which is often open to the public, and involves both people in the courtroom at the same time, where you may be in a position to be directly confronted by the other person or their legal counsel in an adversarial way.

A mediator is a facilitator, a communicator, an educator, and a neutral sounding board that helps people reach creative comprehensive sustainable solutions. A mediator, however, even if he or she is a lawyer, cannot provide advice and cannot make a decision on your behalf. You, as a participant in mediation, have self-determination to reach a final solution and at no time are you required to reach a final solution in mediation.

If you engage the legal system in the United States, you may be required to attempt at least one mediation session, often through a court appointed mediator. If you engage in private mediation, you have more control over the selection and scheduling of the mediation, including choosing a mediator who may have the special skillsets that can help your family’s unique circumstances. If you start the mediation process, you can end it, voluntarily, if it ultimately is not working for your family. If you forego mediation and engage in litigation, you are placed in a situation that has many more restrictions, limitations, and rigidity. You may ultimately end up in a few day trial, only able to present information that falls within the restrictive court rules of evidence, with a judge who has a very limited picture of your family’s unique situation, and fewer resources at his or her disposal to craft a comprehensive and sustainable court solution. Mediation provides control – you have control over the end solution, over the tone and communication, and over the flow of the sessions.

Mediation is not therapy. While some mediators may have education in mental health disciplines, they are not providing therapy. Mediators are impartial and are skilled at communicating, knowing resources, knowing the questions that need answers, and, having helped many families in similar situations, they can educate, enlighten and help problem solve.

Nearly every couple that is separating and going through a transition to a new family structure will have tense situations and difficulty communicating. Mediation can structure the process to manage and respect emotions and the mediator can help the individuals get past impasses, help them communicate, reframe issues and uncover mutual interests. Mediation, in many cases, can be the springboard to helping start better communication moving forward.

Mediation can incorporate your advocate into the process. Lawyers can play a valuable role with evaluating alternatives, brainstorming options, and testing those against what may happen in a legal process. Lawyers are welcome to represent their clients by attending mediation sessions or mediation can pause mid-session to allow participants to seek outside guidance from their legal representatives.

Mediation is geared towards more complex situations than a court trial with its significant limitations. Mediation can have a methodical and thorough approach, and can incorporate other skilled professionals, research, referrals and resources in a cooperative manner.

Unfortunately, if the other person is prone to lying, they will probably lie in court as well. While disclosure, within the confidential structure of mediation, is important to reach a comprehensive resolution, even a court cannot guarantee full disclosure, and in a situation with multiple jurisdictions and multiple legal regimes, it may be impossible to actually obtain relevant information unless through voluntary channels.

Mediation can be appropriate at any stage, and can address any issue, whether it be situational, time limited, one-time issues or complex long-term issues. Mediation can be used before engaging in the court process, parallel to any court process, or even after the court process. Mediation can even be used before you marry or formalize your relationship in some type of legal union, or throughout your relationship to help resolve disputes.

Court processes may take time, and there is always the risk of receiving an unfavorable result. If you mediate, you can structure the process to address more immediate issues first, such as interim access to your children. You may be able to employ a mediator faster than you will receive a court date. Especially in cross-border cases, including with countries that have no legal mechanism in place to actually ensure a court order is enforceable, reaching a resolution where both parents have a role may improve your chances of finding a workable and executable solution.

If you are working with a skilled mediator, that person can help you incorporate the child into the mediation process, either directly if everyone agrees, or through a child focused approach.

If everyone agrees, the mediation process can be tailored to include other people, both as support to the participants, as sources of information, or to give an outside perspective. Whether the other person is a friend, family member, child specialist, financial planner, lawyer, or someone else, they would be bound by the same rules of confidentiality. Including another person in the process is something you would discuss and arrange prior to any mediation session.

The mediation process can run parallel to your legal proceedings, but your mediator will need to know that you are in court, so that the mediator understands any restrictions, particularly so that any mediation sessions can be scheduled within the court’s timeframes.