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Current Issues in Family Law
Bringing your disputes before a mediator can offer several benefits for divorcing couples. In mediation, divorcing couples may resolve any issues they would otherwise litigate, including property division, shared parenting arrangements, parenting schedules and more.
Traditional Hallmarks of Mediation are: voluntary participation, self-determination, full disclosure, and informed decision-making.
Lowering conflict levels
Mediation takes place in a low-key setting where the mediator facilitates constructive discussion and keeps the focus on achieving resolution. This can help communication between soon-to-be exes who may feel overwhelmed with negative emotion. In contrast to courtroom litigation, which for many people tends to escalate the conflict level, mediation can help the parties compromise.
Another benefit is the relatively low cost of this process, especially compared to a full-scale courtroom battle. Some Courts offer mediation and may be eligible low-income parties may qualify for sliding fee or no-cost services.
Agreement binding with court approval
Once the parties reach an agreement, their attorneys review it and present it to the court. The agreement becomes binding once the judge approves it. After that point, a party wanting to change any provision will have to formally petition the court. At any point before court approval, the parties can choose to stop mediation and go back to court.
Mediation when there is Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Usually there is a screening to identify IPV and whether mediation is appropriate. When IPV has occurred, a party might be unable or unwilling to adhere to ground rules, respect the needs and interests of the other party, fully disclose relevant information, explore options, share decision-making, and commit to honoring agreements.
The decisions of the parties should be the product of their own separate deliberation and judgment. When IPV is an issue, one or both parties might be subject to undue pressure, duress, threats, manipulation, or intimidation.
Learn more by speaking with your attorney
Your attorney can and should advise you throughout the mediation process. The mediator may not provide legal advice, so you need your lawyer to discuss the potential ramifications of any decisions you contemplate.
Kimberly Thomas, Family Law Attorney.