With a few exceptions, mediation is required in divorces and other family law matters before a hearing or trial may take place before a judge or jury. Often the mediation will result in a settlement for either temporary orders that stay in place until the case is finalized or for final orders which resolves the case all together. This can save both parties’ time, money and heartache as the process eliminates the need for an actual hearing to take place. In addition, parties have more control of the outcome at mediation then in court where a judge will make the final determination on legal issues.
It is important for both sides to agree to an experienced mediator who has had good success resolving divorce and other family law matters. Your attorney should come prepared for the mediation as thoroughly as one would prepare for a hearing in court, and your attorney should advocate your position. At the same time, the parties should have realistic expectations on what can or cannot be achieved in the mediation process.
Typically, the mediation is set up and held at a mediator’s office and often the mediator is a family law attorney. The mediator cannot dispense legal advice to either side; however, he/she can relay information and proposals for settlement back and forth. Everything said in each room is confidential unless permission is given to the mediator to relay key points in the hopes of getting the other side to reach a settlement. The mediator will most often conduct a “caucus style” mediation where the parties are separated and sit with his/her own attorney. The mediator will toggle between the two rooms to keep the “peace” and to permit each side to speak freely about his/her position.
If an agreement is reached, a mediated settlement agreement will be executed and signed by both parties and attorneys, binding both sides to all the terms and conditions laid out. The mediated settlement agreement is filed with the court and will be the guideline for all the terms and conditions laid out in the temporary or final orders.
If an agreement is not reached, the mediator will file an impasse with the court and nothing from the mediation can be used in court to hurt or help either party. The mediation itself is a confidential process. The parties can then proceed to schedule a formal hearing in court.
Let the Kutty Law Firm handle your family law matters. We come prepared and will advocate for you and what you are entitled to under the law.
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