In a divorce or other relating family law matter, your options are as follows:
- Hire an attorney to litigate;
- Hire a team of certified collaborative practice professionals; or
Regrettably, it is difficult and often expensive to resolve any family law dispute (divorce, custody, child support, partition of community property) in court, or even using the collaborative law process. In an adversarial traditional litigation case, the lawyers jockey for control and the courts often don’t want to spend the necessary time to discover the specifics of what the parties actually need to resolve their dispute. As we mentioned in “Collaborative Practice“, the collaborative approach certainly offers a better alternative to the adversarial litigation process. However, there are circumstances where the issues are not sufficiently complex and/or the parties simply do not have the monies to choose collaborative law. Mediation will often present the best alternative.
Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process where the parties meet with a qualified mediator, who is a trained neutral party in facilitation and negotiation techniques. The mediator will assist all parties to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. What truly distinguishes mediation from litigation, or the collaborative practice process, is that mediation does not impose a solution, nor does the mediator act in the capacity of the attorney for either party. The mediator’s role is simply to assist the parties to create their own solution to their issues. Mediated agreements, especially in situations involving families in divorce, often include unique solutions tailored to specific situations that are not available through the court system. Mediation is non-binding, unless both parties agree to a settlement.
Roy M. Bowes is a qualified registered divorce/custody/child support mediator.