If you are in the midst of a divorce or separation and looking for a way to resolve custody issues with as little hostility and expense as possible, you might want to consider mediation.
- Mediation may give you more control over the process: you and your former spouse can craft agreements that address issues that are important to you, from the terms of your children’s education to vacation activities. Mediation also offers greater privacy since it is typically conducted in an office or a neutral location rather than in open court.
- Mediation is less formal than a trial. While mediation is structured, it does not have the same precedential weight as a trial and may be less intimidating to parties already facing upheaval in their personal lives.
- Mediation is collaborative. Rather than each side presenting a case to a family court judge, parties in mediation work together with a neutral mediator to reach a solution that works for their family. This collaborative approach may help set a positive tone for future interactions with both spouses and children.
- Mediation offers expert advice to guide you through a difficult process. Mediators often have training in both family law and in mediation or conflict resolution, so they understand the laws involved in the case as well as techniques that will help the parties reach agreement. A mediator that is also a skilled attorney can help you work out equitable arrangements for custody, support and parenting time.
- Mediation can be quicker and less costly than going to court. Hearings in family court take time. You also have to pay for representation, filings, and the costs associated with trial. Comparatively, mediation is quicker and less involved.
Of course, not every case will lend itself to mediation. Grievances may be severe enough, or the case complex enough, that a case may not be resolved quickly and fairly in mediation. However, working with a mediator that is trained in the law and in collaborative dispute resolution can help you lay the groundwork for a healthier, more cooperative relationship going forward.
Kathleen Davies is a staff writer for GetLegal.com. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and has practiced law and taught legal writing and advocacy.