Mediation in Family Law
Our mediation lawyers at Thomas and Associates are experienced in dispute resolution and can work with you to mediate your separation. Mediation is designed to settle your separation outside of court by focusing on common interests and agreeing on terms that both parties value.
Our skilled mediation lawyers know that this is your life and you are the one that has to live with the results of your file. While the major decisions should be yours to make, we will give you our professional opinions along with the reasons behind them. We want to help you make the best decisions for you and your family while delivering an efficient, cost-effective resolution to your legal issues.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a dispute resolution process conflicting parties may use to reach a settlement with the help of an impartial third party. Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process, which leaves the outcome in the control of the parties, not with the courts. Where an agreement is reached it is often reflected in a written contract signed by both parties. Mediation takes place on a without prejudice basis, meaning that neither party may use what was said in mediation against the other party in court. You cannot be “prejudiced” by your attempt to settle.
What Does a Mediator Do?
A mediator does not take a position or give advice. They will help the parties explore their positions to reveal underlying interests, ensure the parties communicate respectfully and effectively, and help come up with solutions that the parties may not have explored.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process, where the parties retain a neutral third party to assist them in reaching a resolution to their dispute. When a lawyer acts as a mediator, they may provide general information about the law and the legal process but they do not represent either party and cannot provide legal advice. The mediator’s function is to guide a process to get the parties communicating with each other and ultimately resolve their issues.
Mediation may be used whether or not the parties are represented by counsel. Mediation is a non-adversarial attempt at conflict resolution.
The mediation process involves exchanging information, identifying issues, exchanging settlement offers with the aim of negotiating an agreement.
The Mediator’s role is not to force a solution on the parties. Their role is to:
- Facilitate communication between the parties;
- Assist parties in narrowing the issues and then focusing on them;
- Help the parties generate options for resolution.
The parties themselves are responsible for determining the outcome. The process is private, informal, flexible, and voluntary.
In an evaluative mediation, the mediator assumes a directive approach emphasizing the parties’ bottom lines. The Mediator assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each side and may, when requested to, offer an opinion but will not impose a solution.
In a facilitative or interest-based mediation, the mediator will guide a process emphasizing communication and understanding. In such a process, the mediator does not offer solutions or opinions but will help the parties exchange proposals before evaluating them.
Advantages of Mediation:
- Increased satisfaction, since the resolution is created by the parties and not imposed by a Court;
- Timeliness: A mediator can be retained within a short period of time.
- Cost: Time, money and emotional toil can be reduced through an early resolution of the dispute;
- Confidential: Mediation is a private process. Participants generally all sign a confidentiality agreement.
- Informal setting: Mediation usually occurs in a boardroom or comfortable meeting room, which encourages communication between the parties.
- Preservation of the Relationship: A mediated settlement takes into account the needs of both parties, which contributes to a positive future relationship.
- Being Heard: Parties have full opportunity to explain themselves and vent when necessary. Venting frequently allows a party to move away from the emotional side of the dispute and towards constructive dialogue and resolution.
- Voluntary Process: The process works because the parties have chosen to participate.
Why Choose Thomas and Associates?
Thomas and Associates is a firm of lawyers whom assist their clients with the goal of reaching a settlement. As lawyers, we have experience with conflict resolution and a sound basis of legal knowledge which we employ when making decisions.
We are equally committed to serving our clients’ needs when we represent them, as counsel, during an alternative dispute resolution process. Often, despite discussion of emotionally sensitive issues such as child custody and property division, separating spouses find the result of an alternative dispute resolution process is similar to what would have been achieved in court — without the excessive time, financial and personal cost.