Family conflicts are inevitable. But though they’re part of life, they can escalate to a more serious level if the parties involved fail to talk about them and reconcile.
Family disputes can happen due to a variety of reasons, but the most common cases are divorce, property division, child custody, and other spousal conflicts. Divorce, in particular, is a very common occurrence. A report from the World Population Review, around four to five million people tie the knot yearly in the United States, and, unfortunately, 42% to 53% of them end in separation.
Family law disputes can be mentally draining and frustrating; there’s much to consider other than filing the legal paperwork. Family courts usually handle these types of disputes. However, should you decide to settle an issue in court, you can expect the entire litigation process to drag on for years.
Fortunately, there’s a way to speed up the process and alleviate stress in resolving family law disputes. It’s called mediation. Let’s explore how this transformative approach works and how it might benefit you.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process wherein both parties involved in family law disputes meet with a neutral third party—the mediator. This alternative resolution is less formal than traditional court proceedings and is usually less expensive.
The mediator will act as a go-between by proposing possible solutions and recommendations. But it doesn’t mean they’ll decide your case. Their main role is to guide, assist, and provide a healthy environment so you can discuss the issues at hand and develop an agreement that works for all.
To look for a family mediator, visit www.shapirofamilylaw.com or any reputable family law firm near you.
How Does Mediation Work?
Before the mediation session starts, some ground rules are set to ensure fairness and respect. Both parties must also sign a confidentiality agreement, so whatever is discussed inside the room will remain private.
When everything’s ready, the mediator will allocate the time for each party to listen, speak, and ask questions. It’s your opportunity to explain your perspectives and feelings about the issue. It’s also essential to avoid negative or hurtful remarks toward your partner or the person involved, as it can escalate tensions. Simply put, resorting to criticism can be counterproductive.
Once you find a middle ground, the mediator will create a legally binding document called a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which outlines the agreed-upon terms and conditions.
Types of Mediation
There are different types of mediation, and the type you need will depend on the issues you are trying to resolve.
Here’s a quick rundown of the four common mediation approaches:
Facilitative mediation is like a conversation between two parties. The mediator helps all the parties involved reach an agreement. However, they don’t offer advice and make decisions. Their role is to facilitate negotiation, assisting both parties to see each other’s points of view through active listening.
You can think of this as an expanded version of facilitative mediation. Evaluative mediation includes an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each argument, as well as legal advice for both parties.
This technique is about self-improvement and personal growth. It doesn’t focus on the dispute per se. Rather, the mediator encourages both parties to recognise their actions and behaviour. They will provide strategies to help you understand the situation, assess your emotions, and identify how your thoughts influence how you handle things.
In a narrative mediation process, the mediator encourages both parties to tell their stories and experiences about the conflict to objectify the situation. This process brings more focus to the underlying problems and triggers and lets the parties find solutions to help them heal and move forward.
Advantages of Mediation
Choosing mediation to resolve family law disputes has several benefits:
- It’s confidential: Whatever is discussed and agreed upon in the session remains private, protected by a confidentiality agreement.
- It’s voluntary: You can decide to leave the mediation session anytime you want.
- It’s flexible: It doesn’t adhere to strict rules, promoting more creativity in resolving disputes and finding solutions suitable for both parties involved.
- It’s less expensive: Compared to litigation, mediation is more affordable.
- It promotes cooperation: Mediation helps both parties cooperate and develop an agreement that works for all without involving the court.
- It’s a faster resolution: It takes a shorter time to finish since there’s no need to wait for a court decision.
- It helps improve relations between the parties: As both parties are open to discussing the issues, they can easily reach an understanding and build their relationship as co-parents or siblings.
There’s much more to mediation than meets the eye. It’s not only for resolving family law disputes but also for improving relationships between two parties and getting closure in any difficult situation.
The Bottom Line
Going through a court battle is never easy. It takes time and energy to settle family law disputes. That’s why more people are now opting for mediation as an alternative way to resolve their issues quickly and responsibly.
If you’re looking for a practical way to avoid litigation and agree on the terms of your divorce or other family law matters, consider talking with a law advocate. They can help you find the best solution for both parties in a more peaceful and collaborative environment.