WHY MEDIATION OVER FAMILY COURT?
As a family law lawyer who has practiced exclusively in the area of Family Law since 2002, I wholeheartedly endorse the process of mediation as well as other forms of ADR (alternative dispute resolution).
Over the years I have been involved with hundreds of families who have experienced disputes as a result of relationship/marriage breakdowns and separations and have chosen to proceed to family court; often the outcome is less than desirable for the family and it comes at a high financial and emotional cost.
Family Court processes have become more complicated, costly, and inefficient over the years and as a result of the pandemic, our courts have become even more back logged; if you require a trial, you could be waiting two or three years or more.
Family court proceedings can take years to complete, often the adversarial nature of the proceeding damages relationship even further and makes co-parenting of children more difficult; most often children lose the most in this process and neither party is happy with the decision that the judge made.
There are times when Family Court is necessary; however, the majority of the time alternate dispute mechanisms are appropriate and result in more favorable outcomes for families.
FAMILY MEDIATION: WHAT IS IT?
Family mediation is a voluntary and confidential process, where a neutral third party (the mediator) assists family members to resolve disputes that have arisen between them, most often in the context of a separation or divorce.
The mediator is unbiased and neutral. The role of a mediator is to support both parties in having their voice heard, identifying the most important issues to him or her and to assist in identifying possible solutions and reaching an agreement. The mediator does not provide legal advice; however, he or she can provide general legal information related to the issues. Both parties are always encouraged to seek independent legal advice to make sure they understand his or her legal rights and is making informed decisions. Each person is also strongly encouraged to arrange for a legal consultation in advance of the mediation process.
The process of mediation is all about family members coming to their own solutions; solutions that best meet the needs of their family. The outcome will be an agreement based upon decisions the family has made, unlike what may happen in the court process, where a judge may impose his or her solution to the issues on the family.
In order for mediation to be successful, the participants need to enter this process in good faith and openly share all relevant information about the issues, including the financial issues. Of course, there is no guarantee the family will resolve their disputes; ultimately, that is up to the family.
THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
Solutions reached through mediation usually come about much quicker than solutions reached through family court or other forms of dispute resolution such as traditional negotiations through lawyers or perhaps even through collaborative law.
Durability of the Settlement:
Settlements reached through mediation are often more durable; they last longer and work better because the parties had input into the agreement and it is not something that was forced upon them by a third party.