Mediation is a process whereby persons involved in a dispute of any kind appear before a neutral mediator in an attempt to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to the parties’ pending disputes. A certified mediator attempts to facilitate communication between the parties and to act as “an agent of reality” in trying to assist the parties in finding a legitimate compromise to their disputes.
Mediation can occur at any time, either prior to the filing of a legal proceeding or after the filing of a legal proceeding. It is sometimes mandated by the Court prior to setting a trial date. The parties to a mediation can decide on their own if they wish to have an attorney present with them during a mediation.
Mediation is a confidential process; this means that neither the parties nor the mediator may disclose any portion of the negotiations or matters discussed in mediation, and the mediator cannot be compelled to testify for either party in a legal proceeding. This affords the parties to the mediation a level of trust and assures them that anything discussed cannot be used against them in a legal proceeding.
Ultimately the goal of the mediation is to assist the parties in achieving a written agreement that constitutes a resolution of some or all of the existing disputes between the parties. The mediation process allows for the parties to tailor the agreement so that it specifically fits their needs, and allows the parties to maintain control of their lives. By maintaining this control, the parties eliminate having to rely on the uncertainly of a court proceeding, the public nature of a lawsuit, and increased attorneys’ fees. Further, the parties’ fates will not be determined by a judge or jury who may not fully appreciate the facts and circumstances of the particular case.
Attorney Mary M. White Schneider is a certified mediator with a respected track record of handling domestic relations and family law cases, including divorces and guardianships. Successful divorce mediation may result in a co-parenting agreement, a determination of support, an identification of marital assets, and the manner in which assets will be divided. Successful guardianship mediation may result in a family agreement to determine guardianship of a person and/or estate. Other domestic relations mediations may help the parties to specifically craft resolutions to promote more effective communications between the parties.