What to Expect at Mediation for a Family Law Matter
In recent years, an increasing number of people are choosing alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation as a less hostile and expensive way of resolving family law disputes. However, many people still do not know what to expect at mediation for a family law matter, which is why some opt for the traditional way of resolving disputes: litigation.
As a mediation attorney at Military Law Group, I always make sure that my clients understand the mediation process and how they can prepare for a successful mediation session. I offer the people I serve peace of mind knowing that their best interests are protected throughout the mediation process. I assist clients with various family law matters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and other parts of the Tulsa metro area, including Creek and Rogers counties.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process in which parties to a dispute work together toward solving their problem with the help of a neutral, third-party mediator. The mediator’s job is to guide the parties through the process and facilitate communication between them. Mediators do not have decision-making power.
Mediation is commonly used to resolve divorce and family law issues, including but not limited to child custody, visitation, alimony, property division, and others.
What to Expect at Mediation
What can you expect if you and the other party agree to mediate your dispute? Unfortunately, many people walk into the mediation process unprepared and not knowing what to expect.
How does mediation take place? Mediations usually take place in person or by video conference. Depending on the complexity of the dispute and the parties’ willingness to reach an agreement, there may be one, two, or as many sessions as necessary to come to a mutually acceptable solution.
How does mediation begin? The mediation process begins with the introduction of the mediator. The mediator will explain the process to the parties and clarify their rights and obligations. After the mediator’s opening statements, both parties are given the opportunity to explain the nature of the dispute and what remedies they are seeking.
How do the parties agree on the solution? After the introductory phase, the mediator talks with each party separately. These meetings are known as caucuses. The mediator will go back and forth between the parties to promote an amicable and effective resolution of the dispute.
How does mediation end? If parties come to a mutually acceptable solution, they will draft the terms of the settlement agreement. If no settlement is reached, the dispute may proceed to litigation.
Mediations usually involve the above-mentioned steps. However, each dispute is unique, which is why the mediation process may differ from one case to another.
What to Do to Prepare for Mediation
There are things you can do to prepare for mediation:
Get organized. The importance of being organized cannot be overstated. First of all, you need to organize your thoughts. Second of all, you need to organize your documents. Prepare a list of assets and gather paystubs, bank account statements, and any other documents you may need for resolving the dispute.
Set goals. You will most likely need to make some sacrifices if you want to mediate your dispute. Set clear goals and determine your range of acceptable terms. You need to understand what is truly important to you.
Think about your children. If your dispute involves children, you need to do whatever it takes to reduce the negative impact of mediation on your kids. You may need to communicate with your children to explain what is happening and tell them there is nothing to worry about. Make sure to maintain a supportive and loving environment for your children when going through mediation.
Consider contacting a family law attorney to help you prepare for mediation. An experienced attorney will analyze your specific situation and explain what you can do to ensure a successful mediation.
Tips for a Successful Mediation
Depending on the disputed matter, mediation may turn into a success or failure. Here are some tips you can follow to help your mediation lead to a successful outcome:
Show up on time.
Do not approach mediation sessions with the “this-will-be-a-waste-of-time” mindset.
Treat the mediator and the opposing party with respect.
Do not try to mislead the mediator.
Be 100% honest.
Focus on what is best for you and your kids.
Keep your anger and negative emotions in check.
Be patient throughout the process.
Following these simple tips could help you get the most out of your mediation sessions.
Do You Need an Attorney at Mediation?
Resolving family law disputes is never easy, but mediation can make the process less stressful, adversarial, and expensive for everyone involved.
There is a common misconception that there is no need to hire an attorney if you and the opposing party decide to mediate a dispute. Keep in mind that mediators cannot give legal advice or represent any party’s best interests. A mediator’s job is to facilitate negotiation between the parties and help them reach an agreement.
Thus, if you want to protect your best interests, you may benefit from hiring an attorney to help you mediate your family law matter. In fact, you can ask your attorney to speak on your behalf during mediation sessions. Your attorney will help you determine whether the terms of your settlement agreement are fair and reasonable before signing the agreement.
Trusted Support for Your Family
If you are exploring your alternative dispute resolution options but do not know what to expect at mediation for a family law matter, I can help. As a family law attorney at Military Law Group, I understand how to use the mediation process as a tool for resolving complex disputes. Contact my law office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to discuss your unique case.