Family Mediation is a negotiation assisted by a neutral third party. The neutral third party is called a mediator and the role of the mediator is to guide the participants toward their own resolution of the issues in dispute.
As an impartial guide the mediator:
may help the participants identify the issues
creates a safe space so that each person has the opportunity share their honest views
encourages the participants to keep their focus on what is important
the mediator may assist in brainstorming options for the parties to consider
mediator oversees the negotiation leading to the resolution of the dispute
The mediator does not take sides and the mediator is not a decision maker. The power to make decisions within the mediation rests solely in the hands of the participants themselves. The mediator can provide the parties with legal information; however, the mediator cannot give the participants legal advice. It is a good idea to meet with a lawyer prior to mediation to discuss your legal rights.
Mediation is voluntary, which means that no one can be forced to participate in mediation. Mediation is usually confidential and private. Mediation is different than attending court, as most courtrooms and court files are open to public viewing. Also, Mediation is often much faster, more amicable and less expensive than court.
Once a resolution is reached, the mediator will prepare a written agreement called a Mediation Report or Memorandum of Understanding. It is important to know that the Mediation Report is not a binding document; however, the Mediation Report will contain the terms of agreement that your lawyer can turn into a legal Separation Agreement or Parenting Contract.
How Can A Family Mediator Help?
A Family Mediator helps parents, or spouses who are separating, resolve legal issues relating to parenting plans, custody, access, child support, spousal support and the division of family property.