Many parties end up in mediation–whether by order of the court or upon recommendation from their attorney. Mediation can be a great tool in helping resolve you custody or divorce case. Below are some common questions Prebeck Law Office gets from custody/divorce clients. **The answers are general in nature and you should consult with your attorney about specifics to your case. Contact Prebeck Law Office if you need an attorney or mediator.**
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where parties (and their attorneys, if they have counsel) meet with a neutral third party in order to resolve issues the parties face. Typically the parties start off in one room together. If needed, the parties can split up into different rooms and the mediator goes between the two groups.
The goal is to try and work to an agreeable resolution of whatever issue(s) the parties face. This could be a full resolution of the entire case or a temporary resolution. If temporary, the goal is to help get some temporary orders in place while the parties are working through the rest of the case. An example: A divorce case, involving children, is filed and orders need to get put into place about temporary custody, parenting time and child support. In cases where parties are ready to discuss a full resolution, a multitude of issues may be on the table for discussion.
It is important to note that mediation is a confidential process as they are settlement talks. So, parties should feel free to speak openly and honestly. There are some exceptions to the confidentiality–namely if there is any disclosure of abuse/neglect of a child.
What is a mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third party whose job is to help facilitate the conversation between the parties. They are NOT there to make any decisions and cannot be called as witnesses in court. You do not need to convince a mediator of your position. A good mediator will help parties think outside of the box, as well as pick up on any “elephants in the room”. The mediator should not let parties devolve into arguments. They should keep things on task and productive.
Prebeck Law Office has a Administrative Offices of the Courts family certified mediator (Nicole Prebeck, attorney) and provides mediation services in addition to legal services.
Do I have to agree to anything?
While you do not have to agree on anything, you should enter into mediation in good faith. You should be willing to make reasonable attempts to resolve the issues slated for your mediation. Even if you don’t agree on every issue, you hopefully will be able to come to some agreements. We at Prebeck Law Office tell clients that they shouldn’t expect to get everything they’ve asked for in mediation, but to try and make compromises in mediation that they can be happy with and live with moving forward. Neither party comes out of mediation with 100% everything they’ve asked for. Just like in life, compromise is the key to a successful mediation. However, we at Prebeck Law Office will never let you sign an agreement you are not comfortable with.
What is the cost of mediation?
Costs vary slightly and depends on the charges of the mediator. You can expect to spend at least $200-300 on mediation (for the mediation only, this does NOT include fees you pay to your attorney), possibliy more depending on the complexity of the issues that need to be discussed. However, mediation is still a cheaper option than a trial. Trials are expensive as you’re paying your attorney do extensive work (preparing witnesses, exhibits, discovery, plus time in trial) in order to get ready for a trial. While your attorney will still prepare for mediation, the costs are cheaper as the attorney isn’t working with witnesses and getting exhibits ready. Remember, the goal of mediation isn’t to persuade the mediator to rule in your favor, but for you and the other party to see if you can reach an agreement that you both feel is reasonable and fair and works for your particular circumstance.