Like the Collaborative Process, mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process and is confidential. However, unlike the Collaborative Process, mediation is required by the Court in most contested family law actions and typically takes place in either a half-day or full-day with the parties separated in two different rooms. Mediation usually takes place after the parties have exchanged financial documents. The mediator's role is to act as a neutral third party who facilitates the exchange of information between the parties. The mediator cannot provide legal advice nor advocate for one party or another, which is why retaining an attorney to attend mediation is a wise decision. It is important to know your legal rights prior to entering into a mediated settlement agreement.
During mediation, the attorney's role is to advise the client of his or her rights under the law. This knowledge can assist a client in making an informed decision whether to settle the case or move forward with litigation. If an agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator usually drafts a settlement agreement, i.e. a contract, reducing the parties' agreement to writing. An attorney can review this draft settlement agreement to ensure all of the legal requirements are met and that his or her client's rights are protected. Once the settlement agreement is signed, it can be filed with the Court and incorporated into an order of the Court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the mediator advises the Court that the parties have reached an impasse without disclosing the reason for the impasse, and the parties may seek the appropriate relief directly from the Court. Mediation can be a cost-effective way to reach a resolution to a family law matter.
At Probasco Law, our goal is to help our clients preserve their financial resources and resolve their cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.