An increasing number of cases are settling out of court, and family law cases are no exception. Settling out of court allows parties to divorce cases to get the case done with faster, and typically with less expense than would otherwise have been involved if the case would have had to go all the way to trial. Mediation is a tool used to help facilitate settlement.
Mediation is a process during which you, your spouse, and a neutral third-party will sit down and attempt to find middle ground and settle all or at least part of the case. In many situations, the parties' attorneys may also attend. The mediator will have received special training to help facilitate a settlement agreement. Of note is that a mediator will not force parties to settle and does not have the ability to create an order. In some cases, mediation may be ordered by the trial court. In such a case, the mediator will need to submit a report to the court verifying that the parties appeared at mediation and made a good faith effort to settle. However, everything that the parties disclose to the mediator during the process is highly confidential, and the mediator will not disclose the information to a judge. Moreover, a mediator cannot be subpoenaed to court to testify about statements either spouse made during the mediation process.
Mediation has the distinct advantage of allowing spouses to maintain a degree of control over their case. They are in a position to craft special orders that are tailor made for their situation. This is especially important where the parties have children, as the parents are really best positioned to make parenting decisions. Mediation is not appropriate for every case, however. In those cases involving domestic violence, it is quite possible that face to face mediation is not appropriate. Mediation may also not be the best course where the parties have a large imbalance of power, such as a large wealth disparity.
Mediation has three main advantages over divorce litigation. First is that it is quicker, as the parties do not have to wait for a final hearing date. Second is that it is generally less expensive, as the parties will not have to pay their attorneys to prepare for and appear at trial. Finally, it allows the parties to make their own solutions to their case.
We have helped many clients through their divorces, including through mediation. Call us today at (619) 800-0384 to discuss your options.