Divorce mediation is a non-adversarial alternative to family law litigation. During mediation, the parties work together - often with their individual attorneys present - through an impartial third party (the divorce mediator) to reach agreements concerning their family law issues. One of the many benefits of family law mediation is that the process allows the parties themselves to be in control of the outcome, as opposed to having a decision imposed upon them by a judge. All of the attorneys at Hollingsworth & Zivitz are trained to represent clients in the mediation process. Additionally, our firm has a Family Law Mediation Team comprised of divorce and family law attorneys who are also trained mediators.
Understanding Traditional Mediation
Mediation is the most common of all options which fall under the "alternative dispute resolution" category. Its primary goal is to maintain a civil relationship throughout the negotiations process as well as after an agreement is reached. Traditional mediation is generally when both parties have hired their own attorneys, but the parties which to avoid going to court and reach a settlement unique to their own issues. Mediation allows spouses to avoid the court system and reach a fair settlement with the help of a neutral third party called a mediator. Mediators are specially trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques that help them identify and resolve issues between spouses. However, mediators cannot give legal advice and are not a substitute for lawyers. The mediator's role is to help spouses communicate and reach agreement while the lawyer's role is to ensure his client's legal rights are protected. In mediation, each spouse is responsible for his or her attorney's fees as well as the fees of the mediator. In the event that mediation is unsuccessful, the parties can proceed through the court system, and have not waived any rights they ordinarily have to present their disagreements before a judge. The mediation process is confidential, and anything that happens or is said during mediation cannot be used against either party in subsequent litigation.
Understanding Pro Se Mediation
Pro se mediation is very similar to traditional mediation, with one major difference-the parties are not represented by attorneys. Pro se mediation is often a good option for parties who want to proceed with a divorce in an amicable way, but do not want to incur the additional expense of hiring lawyers in addition to paying the mediator. Just as in traditional mediation, the mediator is a neutral third party, who cannot give legal advice and cannot take into account the interests of either party. The only goal of the mediator is to assist the parties in reaching a settlement agreement. The same advantages exist, as far as lessening the cost, time, and emotional ramifications that often come with litigation. The Hollingsworth & Zivitz mediators believe that this option is most fair and effective when both parties have the same (or substantially the same) knowledge about financial issues, so that neither party feels that the other is taking advantage of him/her.
Advantages of Mediation
Divorce mediation is beneficial because the parties can choose to communicate directly rather than through third parties. Each party hears the other party's concerns and, with the assistance of a neutral mediator, may accommodate those concerns without unnecessarily compromising their own interests. Freed from acting as an advocate for a single party, an experienced mediator can frequently introduce "out of the box" options that neither party had previously considered. Furthermore, mediation is confidential. It allows spouses to avoid court interference, keeping their personal information out of the public record. Mediation also allows the spouses to make their own decisions. They are able to reach a positive agreement that is more personalized than orders they may receive from a judge. Additionally, resolution in the court system often comes more than a year after the divorce was commenced and after countless court costs are incurred. By contrast, mediation is almost always less expensive and time-consuming than full blown litigation. It allows parties to avoid court fees, excessive attorney's fees, shortens the duration of the process, and allows parties to creatively make decisions for themselves and their families, rather than having unworkable orders imposed on them by the court. Emotionally, staying out of court can be more valuable that people realize. When parties litigate issues before a judge, they essentially testify against the other person. Words spoken in a public courtroom can never be unspoken, and this can lead to a tumultuous future, especially when children are involved. Regardless of one's personal circumstances, it is likely that former spouses will be in each other's lives-in one way or another-forever. If parties have children, they will not only be "dealing with each other" until the children are adults. Rather, they will be in each other's presence for graduations, weddings, the arrival of and events involving grandchildren, etc. When parties do not have children, they likely share many of the same friends, are involved with the same churches and organizations, etc. Even if the parties have no children together, do not share the same friends or activities and maybe will not even live in the same state, parting ways amicably is so much easier, emotionally, and allows parties to "move on" in a positive way. Protecting against the harsh emotional reality of litigation and preserving a congenial relationship as much as possible is priceless when it comes to parties recovering and reaching the next best stage in their lives.
Whether your legal issue involves divorce, child custody, child support, education, or DUI, Hollingsworth & Zivitz is committed to the highest standards of creativity and excellence for our clients as our number one priority. To speak with a Hollingsworth & Zivitz attorney, call (317) Divorce or click here to contact us now.