Mediation is an established and well-practiced method of dispute resolution that is particularly useful in obtaining out-of-court settlements in many divorce matters. Because mediation is client-centered, rather than court-centered, mediators have more latitude than courts to address the social and emotional issues surrounding the dispute, and to be proactive in preventing future conflict. This can help parties build solutions that meet the needs of their particular family.
Generally, parties participate in one or more mediation sessions with the mediator. When circumstances dictate, either of the parties can have a private meeting with the mediator. Sometimes mediations include therapists, attorneys, accountants or others. Because the parties need to be informed about certain things, it is often important to get the opinion of experts, such as child psychologists, accountants, or house appraisers. Every family situation is different; mediation sessions and the use of experts should be customized to meet the particular needs of the family. It is possible to mediate part of a case, such as custody and parenting time, while using other methods of resolution or litigation for other parts of a divorce. It is also possible to blend mediation with litigation, or collaborative law.
Mediation is not appropriate to every dispute, because the success of mediation depends on the ability of the client to effectively communicate his or her needs to the other spouse and the mediator. We discuss the possibilities of mediation and other types of complementary dispute resolution as it relates to a particular client’s case before filing in court.