Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that parties often use to resolve their lawsuits. Although courts differ as to how they use mediation in family law cases, it can be an effective means for parties to reach an agreement, especially when it comes to conflicts about their children. The mediation process gives parents the chance to work out a parenting agreement instead of being subject to an order of the court.
An experienced family lawyer from Evans Kingsbury LLP can thoroughly prepare you and guide you through the mediation process. Hopefully, you will be able to reach an agreement in your family law case. However, if an agreement is impossible, we will represent your interests during contested court proceedings.
You can take some simple steps to prepare yourself for the mediation process. Here are five things you need to know as you prepare for mediation.
- There are two types of mediation: mediation with recommendations and without recommendations. Some local courts ask mediators to recommend custody and visitation plans to the judge if the parties cannot reach an agreed parenting plan during mediation. However, in other courts, mediation is confidential, and the mediator makes no recommendations to the court. If the parties can reach any agreements, the mediator may provide the court with a written summary of the areas of agreement. You should be clear about how your local court handles mediation and whether your mediation will be confidential, which can impact what you should and shouldn’t say during mediation.
- Mediation can be court-ordered or private. Parents with disputes about custody and visitation must attend free court-ordered mediation before the court schedules a court hearing in their case. This type of mediation takes place with a court employee and sometimes has a time limit. The mediation is limited to the issues of custody and visitation. You also can pay for private mediation with a lawyer or a retired judge. This type of mediation is completely voluntary because both parties must agree to go to private mediation. Private mediation can involve issues related to children beyond custody and visitation, such as child support and property issues.
- Mediation is not designed to pressure you into reaching an agreement. Many people who end up in court in a dispute over their children do not have a good relationship with one another. This situation may make you feel like mediation is pointless since you are unlikely to reach an agreement. However, the purpose of mediation is not to pressure you into an agreement that you do not believe is in your child’s best interests. You are under no obligation to reach an agreement during mediation. You certainly should keep an open mind, be reasonable, and be willing to listen, but you should not agree to any parenting plan you do not believe is best for your child.
- You must clearly understand what you want your child’s parenting plan to look like and valid reasons to support it. As you think about what parenting plan is best for your children, you should also consider the reasons for your opinions. Your focus must always be on what is best for your child, not on what you would prefer. Articulating solid, logical reasons for your parenting plan can help support your position as you go through mediation. Conversely, having no valid reason to support a certain parenting plan provision you are requesting makes it less likely that the other party will agree.
- Reaching an agreement is more likely if you can set your feelings aside and work with your child’s other parent. Family law cases, especially when they involve children, are often fraught with emotions such as anger, resentment, and sadness. Often, parents cannot let go of those emotions and truly focus on what is best for their child. During mediation, your goal is to set aside how you feel about your child’s other parent and acknowledge that your child needs both parents as active participants in their life. To that end, you should concentrate on remaining calm, refraining from disparaging the other parent, and working together to create the best possible plan for your child.
Learn More About How We Can Assist You With Mediation
At Evans Kingsbury LLP, our family law attorneys are never afraid to take on complex family law cases. We have the skills and experience to achieve positive results for our clients in all types of family-related legal disputes. Our attorneys will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and represent your interests in court. You can set up a time to speak with us by calling (707) 596-6090 or contacting us online today.