What You Should Know Before Mediation
Most family cases require mediation prior to a final hearing. Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues and reach an agreement without the need for a trial.
What is mediation?
In a family case, whether you are going through a divorce or a paternity action, you and the other party meet with a trained, neutral mediator to discuss the outstanding issues and attempt to negotiate to reach a final agreement. It is a confidential process, therefore, if you do not reach an agreement, you are not able to use what was discussed at mediation during your trial.
A mediator is not a Judge or will not offer legal advice. The mediator is a neutral facilitator that assists you and the other party figure out what may be a good resolution to your issues.
Mediation can be done virtually or in-person. If you prefer to be in separate rooms or virtual rooms, you have the opportunity to do so. The mediator will go back and forth between the rooms to discuss the proposed terms with each party.
Do I need an attorney at mediation?
I always recommend that you seek legal representation when attending mediation because, if you resolve all your issues, you are executing legally binding contracts. If you are attending mediation as part of a divorce, you will need to execute a Parenting Plan and a Marital Settlement Agreement. As previously mentioned, a mediator does not provide you with legal advice. As a family law attorney, I know which terms are a ‘must’ to prevent future litigation.
If I settle at mediation, is my case finalized?
If you reach a full agreement during mediation and neither party is represented by an attorney, the mediator will draft the agreements for signatures and, in many cases, will file the agreements with the court. But your case is not finalized at that point. You will still need to continue through the court system to submit the final documents to request the Judge to sign your Final Judgment to finalize your case.
Our firm is able to provide limited representation to assist you during the mediation process, or if you only need us to draft your agreements and final documents to finalize your case with the court.