Lorna L. Bigsby, Divorce & Family Law Mediation
Mediation is an informal alternative to “conventional” or litigated divorce.
In the mediation process, a trained neutral professional – the “mediator” – guides the couple’s negotiations, either with or without the direct participation of their independent lawyers.
Mediation moves the divorce negotiation process from the public courthouse into an office or conference room. In this private setting, a couple can work to settle their disputes through tolerable compromises. They may meet together with the mediator; or they may occupy separate spaces, with the mediator “shuttling” back and forth, carrying proposals between rooms. The process may consist of a single, focused mediation day, or it may occur over time in several sessions, as may best serve the couple.
Mediation can allow a couple to avoid the most negative aspects of litigation, since it is generally:
- Private, not public;
- Informal and efficient;
- Not encumbered by technical legal procedures;
- Focused on compromise, not “winning” at all costs, or at the expense of the other party;
- Participatory, with the parties controlling outcome, rather than having results imposed by an outside decision maker;
- Capable of helping preserve important personal and/or working relationships, especially the future co-parenting of a couple’s children; and
- Reduces stress and anxiety associated with formal court proceedings.
Despite all these positive possibilities, mediation is still an essentially an adversarial process. The mediator has no decision making authority. Either party may submit extreme settlement positions that make compromise difficult or unachievable. Unless the couple reaches agreement voluntarily, they may proceed with their traditional litigated case, including trial. Still, mediation has become the most frequently used alternative process for conflict resolution in divorce and, when successful, can provide a very satisfying outcome.
If mediation appeals to you, please come into our office to discuss it further with Lorna L. Bigsby.