Family mediation is a process where couples and families discuss their problems with the help of a trained mediator. A mediator helps people communicate in a productive way and encourages compromise.
The goal is to reach a settlement that works for everyone. Mediation is a less expensive and more convenient option than going to court. It is also a better alternative to acrimony and hostility, which can cause lasting emotional damage. The participants decide how they want to resolve their issues. They can use mediation to create a separation agreement, parenting plan, or other documents. They can set aside time for multiple sessions or meet over a period of time that suits them.
Unlike the rights-focused settlement meetings that lawyers conduct, family mediators focus on meeting the needs of each unique situation. For example, some parents may wish to explain their separation to their children in a constructive manner that promotes open communication and ongoing co-parenting, which is not always possible in a rights-oriented settlement meeting.
The parties share the cost of the mediation, resulting in a significant savings over the costs of litigation. The mediator has a legal duty to keep the mediation confidential. However, if the parties can’t settle their dispute in mediation, they must go to trial and let a judge make a decision for them. In some cases, the judge will choose a solution that is different from what the parties would have chosen in mediation.