The Magistrate in my custody case wants us to go to mediation, why should I do that? Can’t she just decide?
Mediation is a voluntary process which people participate in to try to resolve their disagreements. A neutral professional, called the mediator, leads the process. The mediator’s job is to help people communicate in order to reach their own voluntary agreement. Mediation allows people to work together, with the assistance of the mediator, to resolve issues outside of the courtroom.
There are a lot of benefits to mediation, especially when children are involved. A Judge or Magistrate cannot make a final decision until a case goes to trial and it can take a year or more for a court case to get that far. During that time, people’s anger and frustration often gets worse and children can be put in the middle. Both parties also rack up a lot of attorney fees waiting for trial. There are multiple hearings before the trial, discovery has to be completed and trial preparation is very expensive. By participating in mediation, parents can work toward an agreement and, hopefully, avoid the lengthy wait and the expensive attorney fees that come with taking a case to trial.
Mediation also gives people more control over the ultimate outcome of their case. Each person will have an opportunity to speak. The mediator will assist the participants in figuring out what each other’s concerns are and try to move toward solutions. Through this process, parents can try to put together their own plan for their children. An agreement reached in mediation is more likely to be workable for the parents and the children because parents understand their lives and their children’s lives far more than a Judge ever can. When the plan is workable, it’s more likely to be followed and there is less fighting in the future.
Mediation is also less likely to cause long term damage to your relationship with the other parent. A trial involves each parent basically telling everyone why he or she is a better parent. While talking to the court, things are often said that are very hurtful and embarrassing. Parents whose cases go to trial are almost never able to repair that relationship, which is always hard for the children.
Mediation isn’t only useful for child related matters – it’s frequently helpful in resolving financial issues as well.
Our family law attorneys are trained mediators. If you have questions about whether mediation may be helpful for your case, please contact our office and they will be happy to speak with you.