Mediation is an alternative to court proceedings where parties take the time, through dialogue and with the assistance of a neutral third party, to attempt to resolve their disputes. The mediator does not have any power to impose a settlement or make a decision. Rather, the mediator offers a process which helps the parties focus on their interests.
Family law judges know that parents are most likely in the best position to make decisions about their children. Even if a judge spends an entire day listening to the parties (which is very unlikely given crowded court dockets), he or she cannot begin to know your family situation like you do.
In my mediations, I follow a simple four step process which gives the parties the best chance to reach a solution:
- Set the stage (introductions and preliminary matters)
- Identify the issues
- Process the issues
- Resolve the issues
I take on several roles during the mediation: negotiation coach, neutral observer and enforcer of the process. Family matters are very challenging emotionally and it can be very helpful to have an uninterested outsider guiding the process.
While mediation can be challenging, you can save time and money and have a more satisfying outcome. Mediation allows you to make decisions about your children and your life rather than a stranger who barely knows you.