Many of us have more intense feelings about our families than about anything else in life. This sometimes makes solutions to problems seem impossibly far away. Specialists in family law help families create and maintain better agreements for a better life.
Usually, staying out of courtrooms helps, and mediation is one of the methods families use to settle differences without having a judge make the decisions.
Mediation is not just about divorce
Families often use mediation to find divorce settlements, including answers about alimony, property division, child custody and child support. But mediation is also a favorite method of settling many other disagreements over loved ones and the home.
Mediation may help settle questions about surrogacy and artificial methods of conception, domestic partnerships, adoptions, foster care, paternity, guardianships, abuse and domestic violence, and much more.
Mediation gives people control over what happens
In mediation, the parties involved in the dispute (we will call them “the couple”) work together to settle things their way. The mediator is a guide and resource.
- Unlike a trial or “binding arbitration,” nothing legally binds the couple to agree to anything. They can walk away without resolving anything.
- The mediator does not “hand down” any decision. The couple gets to design and choose their outcome.
- The mediator helps the couple resolve the dispute and settle all related issues as the need arises.
- The mediator might provide structure, including topics to discuss and in which order, and allowing everyone a chance to air their concerns.
- The mediator can provide neutral information and context.
- The mediator can gather information about legal or other facts the couple needs.
- The couple can fire the mediator and hire a new one, or they can use a different process like arbitration or court.
Decisions and agreements in mediation can sometimes be highly individual since the couple is free to design their own agreement to suit their needs.