In the case of family law, mediation can help couples who can’t agree on divorce issues, such as the division of assets or child custody, to reach agreements. Here we explain why speaking to a mediator is often the better option when compared to attempting to reach a joint agreement without help.
In a traditional trial, each party enters a formal setting with the sole focus on achieving an outcome based on the letter of the law. Typically, each party has an attorney, presents evidence, and gives testimony, with a judge and jury determining the outcome.
Family mediation is similar in many respects. The topics to be discussed at the mediation will be the division of property and children, if any.
Each party can still have legal representation, plus they’ll likely present their evidence and make an argument for why they should receive what they believe they’re entitled to receive. However, the mediation setting is far less formal than a court trial and more akin to a negotiation than a legal proceeding.
In mediation, an independent third party, called a “mediator,” oversees the process. Acting like a judge, the mediator is more interested in helping the involved parties reach an agreement that is fair and beneficial to all involved.
Mediation on its own isn’t legally binding. The parties can reach a verbal agreement during the mediation process, only to back out of that agreement without any issues. But most mediations lead to the creation of a contract, which becomes legally binding once both parties sign the document.
In many family mediation cases, the parties may have little contact with their assigned mediator before sitting down at the table to negotiate. That can lead to one (or both) parties feeling underprepared for the proceedings. Building from that, there are several reasons to speak with a mediator before undergoing family mediation, even if that mediator isn’t the one who oversees your sessions.
You may head into family mediation with the belief that your mediator will provide a cut-and-dry judgement on your case. That rarely happens, as the mediator is more likely to facilitate conversations between each party in the hope of reaching an agreement that satisfies them.
As such, speaking with a mediator before your mediation sessions can give you a deeper understanding of what the mediator is there to do. It can also set your mind at ease, as you’ll realise that mediation doesn’t come with the formality required in a trial setting.
Some may not initially consider mediation as an option, especially if they’re in a hostile situation in which neither party seems willing to negotiate. Sadly, this leads to many families losing money to expensive court proceedings which they could have saved through family mediation.
By speaking to a mediator before deciding on your next action, you get a better understanding of the financial benefits mediation offers. As a shorter and simpler process, mediation usually offers you an opportunity to pay less in legal fees. Furthermore, the process empowers each party to discuss financial arrangements directly, meaning there’s less chance of one party being left in a substantially worse financial situation than the other.
One of the biggest downsides of taking a family issue to court is that the proceedings become a matter of public record. Some people may feel like court cases drag their names through the mud by revealing sensitive information that they’d rather keep private.
Family mediation offers privacy for such sensitive matters. By speaking to a mediator, you’ll develop a better understanding of what that privacy entails and how the mediation process protects all parties from having to face embarrassing public consequences.
Proper family mediation can save participants thousands of dollars, in addition to providing a private avenue to settlement in sensitive family law matters.
With Legalhood, you can access family mediation online for free. After filling out a 5-minute form on our website, you will have access to a certified mediator with whom all parties can discuss the case through face-to-face meetings and video calls.
Our 95% success rate demonstrates that mediation is often a better option than going to court. If you are interested in learning more, check out our online family mediation service today.