Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines “mediation” as follows: “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise.”
In the context of family law, mediation is a process where both parties meet with a neutral third party. That neutral third party helps the parties reach a settlement or compromise of their issues, including property issues, support issues, and custody issues. The neutral party often is a family law attorney.
Usually, the parties meet together with the mediator in comfortable surroundings where they can talk about their issues in a safe environment. The mediator helps the parties understand each other’s views, which often is a major stumbling block in a family law proceeding.
The parties may or may not have an attorney represent them in the mediation process. If the parties do not have an attorney actively participating in the mediation process, one or both of the parties may choose to have an attorney giving advice in the background. Most of the time, however, the parties do not use an attorney unless the mediation fails or in order to get advice on specific issues that come up during the mediation.
When the parties reach an agreement, traditionally the mediator helps the parties prepare a written agreement and the documents necessary to file with the court. The parties, of course, may choose to have a different person prepare the paperwork. And parties will often take the agreement to to their attorney for review before signing it. If there are concerns, the parties can then take those concerns back to the mediation.
When the parties can reach agreement through mediation, they can save significant amounts of money by avoiding the cost of litigation and the requirement to have two sets of attorneys and their supporting staff and experts. The parties can often divide the fees of the mediator equally, but they can also agree to any other allocation of those fees as part of their mediation agreement.
For more information regarding family law mediation using the Wilson Law Firm, A Professional Corporation, call (916) 608-8891.