Mediators are neutral third parties who help divorcing couples resolve a variety of issues, including support payments, the division of property, and custody of/access to children, without having to attend court.
Mediation is becoming increasingly popular not only because it can help reduce costs associated with a divorce, but it also gives both parties control over their matter. Mediation can be particularly effective when children are involved because decisions about the children’s best interests are made by the people who know them best; their parents. It’s also possible for couples to choose which issues they’d like to try to resolve with their mediator.
Hiring both a divorce lawyer and mediator is an excellent idea – provided both parties are willing to communicate with each other, compromise, and work together to resolve their issues. While the mediator is there to help facilitate discussions, they will not take sides or help make decisions for the parties. Mediation would not be appropriate in situations where there is a power imbalance between the parties, or if one partner has been violent or abusive towards the other partner or the children. The mediator will meet with each party separately before agreeing to take the case to screen for domestic violence or power imbalances.
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If the parties do decide to hire a mediator, it is still important for each person to have a lawyer as well. This is because mediators cannot provide legal advice, and it is not their job to inform either party of their legal rights and obligations. Those are the responsibilities of a lawyer. Furthermore, a lawyer is usually needed to draft a mediation agreement. Mediators can provide a Memorandum of Understanding if and when agreements are made by both parties, but this document is not legally binding.
In summary, mediators can help parties resolve their issues without having to attend court, and the mediation process can save both spouses time and money. But in order for mediation to be effective, both sides have to be willing to work together.
Are you seeking more information about how to resolve your family law matter outside of court? Contact us to set up a consultation. Together, we will develop a strategy and decide on the correct approach to resolving your case in an amicable fashion.