Mediation is a dispute resolution process whereby the parties engage a third-party neutral to facilitate communications between them with the goal of resolving their dispute. The third-party neutral is called a mediator.
Mediators are trained in communication skills whereby they assist parties in obtaining a shared understanding of their conflict and developing practical lasting solutions. Mediators do not take sides or advise the parties as to how to resolve their dispute.
Mediation offers clients several benefits over litigation:
First, mediation is considerably less expensive than litigation. A mediator may charge a similar hourly rate as an attorney, but mediator's fees are normally shared by the parties. Additionally, mediation often takes less time than litigation. A divorce case moving through the court system can take up to or more than a year to complete. Mediated cases, depending on the number of issues and level of complexity, can be resolved in a matter of 1-4 sessions with a mediator.
Second, mediation is a confidential process. Mediation sessions will take place in the office of the mediator or a conference room. No one is allowed access to the mediation session except the mediator, the parties, and possibly their attorneys. Mediators usually destroy their notes at the end of a mediation session. To the contrary, court rooms and court records are open to the public. Finally, Maryland law prohibits a mediator from testifying in court about anything that occurred during the mediation session.
Third, mediation gives parties control over the outcome of their case. Agreements reached in mediation are a result of decisions made by the parties about what is the best way to resolve their dispute. In litigation, judges decide how to resolve a dispute based on the presentation of evidence and legal arguments over a short period of time. Moreover, a judge's authority is constrained by the law and they can resolve certain issues in a limited number of ways. In mediation, the possibilities are limitless and only bound by what the parties are willing to agree to.
Fourth, mediation is a process that allows parties to have positive relations with one another post-conflict. Good mediators are likely to address as much the emotional and relationship aspects of a dispute as the subject matter. Communication, mutual understanding and working together to resolve a dispute helps to facilitate a positive post conflict relationship. Adversarial in nature, the litigation process can be very destructive to relationships and leave lasting emotional scars on both parties and their children.
It is prudent to have an attorney advising you about your legal rights if you choose to use mediation to resolve your family law matter. There are several ways to make use of an attorney as you mediate your matter. If you do not understand all of the possible issues related to your matter you may want to consult with a family law attorney prior to going to mediation. An attorney can inform you about the scope of the issues that you may want or need to resolve in mediation. If you would like to mediate your dispute, but don't feel competent to negotiate alone you may ask that your attorney attend the mediation session with you to assist in the negotiations. Finally, if you and the other party do reach an agreement in mediation, you should ALWAYS have the agreement reviewed by an attorney before signing it.
The attorneys of Arn Family Law value the mediation process when it is appropriate for each party. We are happy to consult with you about the process and guide you through it. For more information, call us at (240) 345-2015, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our online contact form.