Most people do not know much about mediation despite the fact that it is a very important component of all family law cases.
First it is best to understand that mediation is not a type of arbitration. Mediation is an alternate dispute resolution option which is used in virtually all family law cases. It is a powerful and important tool because each party has the power to negotiate and decide independently if he or she wants to enter into the agreement. Once all financial documents and other needed records have been exchanged between the parties and/or their counsel, the Court will enter an order and require the parties to attend mediation. The mediation will be scheduled with all parties and/or their counsel. Unless ordered otherwise, the Court will order each party to pay one half of the costs of the mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party, often an attorney with a great deal of family law experience, who is approved and certified as a mediator. As a general rule, the mediation process will take a few hours or the better part of a day. In most cases, a global settlement agreement is reached and reduced to writing, which will conclude the litigation except for the brief final hearing itself.
Mediation is an important aspect of family law cases because it leaves the power of settlement and negotiation in the hands of the parties rather than a judge. More on mediation next time.