"Family mediation" means the mediation of disputes in actions for divorce, annulment, establishment of paternity, child custody or visitation, or child or spousal support.
Mediation programs can be very beneficial to people who are divorcing as well as to those who have long been divorced but who find themselves in a dispute in their post-divorce relationship. Not only can it save money but it promotes positive dispute resolution rather than adversarial procedures. That being so, it is well worth investigating by any couple facing divorce, a child custody fight, a visitation dispute or other interpersonal conflict.
Mediation is a process that may help you resolve your case so you can have an uncontested divorce. Mediation is particularly useful in situations involving children, since it is in the interests of the children that their parents "get along" even if they will no longer live together as husband and wife. In many states all cases that involve contested custody or visitation matters are referred to mandatory mediation, provided the parties are represented by an attorney and there is no allegation of domestic abuse.
Mediation attempts to change disputes from "win-lose" to "win-win." Mediation is a non-adversarial process of helping people come to agreement on issues like parenting arrangements, support of children and spouses and division of real and personal property. Mediation occurs when a neutral third-party, who has training in dispute resolution, assists you and your spouse and helps you resolve the issues that are causing conflict and to make cooperative, informed decisions.
Mediators use a variety of negotiating techniques to help spouses reach a mutually agreeable solution to their differences. The final decisions are the spouses', not the mediator's, because both have had a say in how to deal with the issues that are important to them. In divorce mediation, the couple controls how and when decisions get made, rather than attorneys and judges.
Mediation is far less expensive. It can save a divorcing couple a lot of money. As you will see from the brief description of contested divorces below, adversarial trials get very expensive, what with the cost of attorneys, expert witnesses and time taken away from more positive pursuits. If you can successfully resolve all of the issues in your case, ranging from property division, to support, to custody, you will be many dollars ahead.
Mediation is faster. In a traditional court setting, trials can stretch for many months or even into years.