Mediation is a process where domestic partners work with a third-party, neutral professional to reach agreements concerning their finances and children which are ultimately set forth in a written contract commonly known as a separation agreement.
If you hire a mediator to facilitate a settlement, then they cannot represent you, nor your spouse/partner, in a later contested matter. As a neutral party, the mediator walks you through a process designed to help you reach an agreement on major issues related to divorce — for example: (i) child support, (ii) parenting arrangements, (iii) division of property, and the like. Ideally, each party has separate counsel to perform the following functions: (i) educate you on the law and your expectations if the case were to go to court — an informed party is better able to intelligently discuss each issue; (ii) advise you as to whether any proposed settlements are in your best interests and are reasonable; and, (iii) review the final agreement to ensure that it accomplishes what you believe you have agreed to.
It’s likewise important to be very clear about whether you are seeking to hire the lawyer for representation or as a lawyer-mediator — only one professional hat can be worn under our adversarial system and the rules of professional conduct,
so be sure to indicate which type of services you are interested in the first time you call the office.
Sir Isaac Newton first announced his third law of motion that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In my thirty plus years of trial practice, I can tell you Sir Isaac Newton’s 16th-century observation of matter and motion likewise applies to human relationships. Often times, when one party gets “taken to the cleaners” as is often described in the vernacular, the seeds are then sown for the next round of litigation — you can be sure that, unless both parties feel that the ultimate resolution is fair, the one who feels defeated will come back to fight — maybe not in the next month, or even in the next year, but they will be back to vindicate any perceived wrongs. That means more time, expense, money and aggravation. This is the chief benefit to mediation — it is a process where each party determines the resolution through their active participation and with the help of the mediator guiding solutions which are interest driven rather than position driven. Here are some of the other chief benefits to mediation: