My Case Is Going into Mediation. What Happens Now?
You’re in the midst of your divorce or child custody case, and things with your ex have hit an impasse. Maybe you can’t agree on the way the child custody schedule should look, or what school the kids should attend, or what should happen to the house you shared.
No matter the issue, you’re preparing to enter mediation, whether by recommendation of your attorney or order of the court. You may have heard of this term, but don’t actually know what happens or what to expect from the mediation process.
Here’s what you need to know about mediation:
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is the use of a neutral third party, usually an attorney not connected with your case or a former judge in your jurisdiction to help you and your ex communicate and, if appropriate, come to an agreement. The mediator serves a few purposes, including:
- Impartially managing disagreements
- Helping both parties communicate
- Helping people identify their needs and interests with the goal of finding realistic solutions that meet those needs
Mediation’s ultimate goal is to help you and your ex solve any outstanding issues related to your divorce or child custody case without having to step foot in court.
Why Choose Mediation?
The mediation process provides many benefits to opposing parties. For one, it is usually less stressful and prolonged than sending a case all the way through the court system, which can take years. Additionally, mediation is much less expensive than a full court case, with each party paying half the mediator’s fees and avoiding additional attorney fees, depositions, court fees, and other costs related to a full-scale court case.
Mediation also allows both parties to feel they have more say in the outcome of their case. If your case goes in front of a judge, the final decision on child custody, education, or a whole host of other things is left up to the judge. With mediation, however, each party has a chance to have his or her voice heard, and the parties can work toward a mutually agreeable solution rather than one being handed down to them.
For many, mediation can help preserve the co-parenting relationship, as the parties have an opportunity to choose their outcome and it doesn’t feel as if one or the other “won.”
What Happens in Mediation?
Once you have chosen to enter the mediation process, a mediator must be chosen. Your attorney or local courthouse will have a list of certified mediators to choose from, and both you and your ex must agree to the mediator.
Your mediator will be given some basic information about your case before the process begins. He or she won’t get all the nitty-gritty details, but they will know about the core issues you’re struggling to come to an agreement on and some other information that may be important.
On the day of your mediation session, you and your ex will meet with the mediator. Your attorneys will not be present. You will discuss the issues at hand, and only the issues at hand, with your mediator. For example, if you’re entering mediation because you cannot agree on a custody schedule, you will not discuss who keeps the car during your mediation session.
Most of your mediation session will be conducted as a group, but your mediator may choose to speak separately with you and your ex. The mediator will not tell you what you’re likely to get if you take the matter to court, but he or she can tell you what state laws say. Your mediator also cannot force any sort of agreement on you; you and your ex both have to fully agree to any compromises.
In mediation, you can expect you’ll have to give a little and take a little. Don’t go in thinking you’re going to get everything you want, no matter what. Approach mediation with an open mind and a spirit of cooperation, keeping everyone’s best interests at heart, and the process will be much more collaborative and rewarding for everyone.
Your Washington, D.C. Divorce Attorney
At Lopez Law Firm, we have years of experience capably guiding Washington, D.C., families through the divorce and child custody process. From the initial decision to separate through any post-judgement matters, our team gives you the compassionate, knowledgeable representation you deserve. Schedule your consultation today!