Family Law Mediation – How Can Mediation Help a Family Matter?

Posted in Divorce Mediation on May 21, 2020

Family law is a large practice area that encompasses matters such as divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal support, estate plans, prenuptial agreements and domestic violence. Every year, the courts in California hear thousands of family law cases. Not every family matter must go to trial, however. With alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, many couples and families can avoid court battles. Discuss your specific matter with a Solana Beach family lawyer if you are curious whether mediation is the right solution for you.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a pre-trial process with the parties involved in the family matter and a neutral third party, or mediator. The mediator talks through the issue with both parties, facilitating a discussion to try to resolve the dispute. The goal of mediation is to reach a settlement agreement about the family matter to avoid going to trial.

Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties involved retain full power over the resolution. The mediator does not have the power to make a judgment over the matter. It is also not mandatory for the parties to reach an agreement. It is simply an opportunity for the family to work through the matter with assistance from an impartial third party.

When Is Mediation Appropriate?

Mediation is most successful when the parties involved in the dispute or matter are open to listening to one another and compromising on the issue. If both parties go into a mediation conference unwilling to budge, it is unlikely that mediation will succeed. It may take a trial and a judgment to resolve these cases.

During child custody mediation, for example, it is more likely for the family to avoid going to trial if the parents are willing to cooperate for the best interests of the child. A family can always try mediation to see if it works. If not, the case will have to go to trial – often a longer, costlier and more stressful process for the family.

Family matters that resolve through mediation most often include divorces, domestic disputes and contract disputes. Outside of family law, many other types of cases successfully settle during mediation as well, including personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. In most cases, the parties on both sides of the case wish to settle before going to trial. Mediation can allow both sides to voice their opinions, be heard and work out an agreement.

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What to Expect During Mediation

If you wish to try mediation to resolve your family matter in Solana Beach, hire a lawyer to help you with your case. A mediation attorney can help you prepare your case and all related documents prior to your conference. Your family lawyer could also represent you during the actual meeting to make sure the other side does not take advantage of you. Your lawyer can set up the mediation conference with a mediator in your county and walk you through what to expect.

Mediation will take place at a neutral location, such as the mediator’s office. The people who attend mediation are the parties directly involved in the case, their attorneys (if desired) and the mediator. If attorneys are present, you will work out the protocol beforehand on how to communicate with your lawyer during the meeting. The exact steps of the conference will differ depending on the type of mediation.

In general, mediation will involve opening statements by the mediator, determining the nature of the dispute, identifying areas of settlement, negotiating and making decisions about the matter, and continuing until the parties achieve a settlement or reach an impasse. The parties will put any settlement reached during mediation in writing. The lawyers, if present, will review the written settlement and sign off. If mediation reaches an impasse, the parties may schedule a second conference or proceed to trial. A lawyer can help you mediate a family matter in Solana Beach if you believe this is the right option for you.