I want to talk to you about mediation and what mediation is, and how important mediation is in your case. Mediation is an informal proceeding in which the mediator is someone who is qualified and has a certain number of hours that they’ve taken in the mediation process. In mediation, usually what happens, is the mediator, who is a neutral third party who doesn’t know anything about your case, is going to go between two different conference rooms, the conference room where mother may be, or the wife, and the conference room where father or husband may be. Each one of the parties will have their lawyers present in those separate conference rooms.
Mediation is confidential, so it’s not taped and recorded. In the mediation process, the parties will have an opportunity to discuss with the mediator what they feel their legal issues and the outcomes that they want should be discussed, and the mediator will carry that information back and forth between the two rooms. There are certain things that you can do to be fully prepared for mediation. It’s always been my practice, that before mediation the client comes in, and we have a legal strategy meeting, to discuss what we want to see as an outcome.
If you are going to mediate a typical divorce case where there are children, then you’re going to be discussing all of the financial aspects of your case. Property, debts, house,cars, those kinds of things. On top of it, you’re going to be expected to mediate a parenting plan. A parenting plan that’s going to discuss how the parents are going to co-parent and share custody, visitation, holidays and decision-making with the children. There’s a lot of things that you can do to make sure that mediation is as powerful as you want it to be. My message is always the same to my clients, that mediation represents your last best opportunity to resolve your case in an amicable or friendly manner, before you get to the judge.
By the time you get to a judge, it’s too late. You can’t negotiate with a judge. A judge is there to hear the case and make a decision, so mediation is a very important proceeding in our family law courts. Many of our family law mediators will reduce a mediation agreement to writing. That means you’ll have an agreement from that moment that you reach an agreement in mediation, and you can avoid a costly time-consuming hearing in front of a judge when you reach an agreement in mediation.