Using mediation to handle a family dispute can be a great alternative to going to court. Mediation is when all the parties involved voluntarily agree to arrive at a settlement together with support from a neutral mediator. It is important to keep in mind that a mediator cannot actually give advice to either party not act as a legal representative for anyone.
What a mediator does is keep the conversation going while highlighting facts for everyone to be aware of, including the strengths and weaknesses of all positions. It is not uncommon solutions to be found that the parties had not realized was possible. Mediation is a voluntary and casual process, so any party can withdraw themselves from the meeting at any time and for any reason.
Family law disputes are either settled before court or in court. The latter can be quite lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining. For this reason, even if both parties are at odds with one another, at least they can agree on the fact that they probably want to avoid going to court. Even the most highly contested family law disputes can find a resolution with mediation as long as all parties are honest in wanting to try. Mediation is unlikely to work if any party is not fully prepared to compromise or have a respectful discussion with others. Family members who mediate may find they experience the following benefits:
- More likely to save money by avoiding court
- More likely to be at least somewhat happy with the results
- Are able to have some control over the verdict (instead of judge’s discretion)
- Keeping the matter private to those involved (family court is public access)
- Are able to arrive at a solution in shorter time compared to no mediation
Through mediation, family members who are in disagreement can take back some control over their own lives and arrive at a resolution that considers everyone’s wants to some degree. If the situation were to be handled in family court by a judge, there is no guarantee that the judge will consider the feelings of anyone else when determining the verdict. A successful mediation means court can be avoided and all parties are likely to be at least somewhat pleased with the outcome.
As a family lawyer from Bernie Kempen has seen before, mediation can be a useful way for families to come to an agreement about disputes. Without mediation, it may take more time, money, resources, and frustration to attend court. Unless domestic violence or threat to safety is a factor, then mediation is probably worth trying for the benefit of all.