Family Law Mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential non-binding settlement conference that is facilitated by a neutral third party called a mediator.
Mediation is confidential in the sense that what is said at mediation may not be revealed outside the mediation, specifically referenced in any court proceedings. Furthermore, the mediator, or any other party, cannot be made to testify about what happened at mediation The exception is if an agreement is reached, in which case it is filed with the Court and is final and binding on each party.
Mediation is non-binding in the sense that unless an agreement is reached, no party is required to reach an agreement and the mediator is not charged with rendering or making a ruling.
Mediators are neutral. Their role is to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. Their role in the case concludes after the mediation.
What happens at mediation?
Most family law mediations occur caucus style which means the mediator goes between two rooms where each party and their lawyer sit. In most cases the parties do not directly communicate of share the same room. Otherwise, mediation is generally structured loosely with parties making proposals and counterproposals back and forth until an agreement is reached or an impasse is reached.
Do I have to mediate?
In most cases the local rules of each County will require the parties to mediate before a trial.
Who selects the mediator?
Normally the parties or lawyers will agree on a mediator. If not, the Court randomly will choose a mediator from a pre-approved pool of mediators.
Is Mediation a Substitute for a Lawsuit?
It is still necessary to file a divorce petition to get divorced. Furthermore, any agreement reached in mediation will need to be converted into a Final Decree of Divorce for the Court to approve.
Can I get out of Mediated Settlement Agreement I don’t like anymore?
In most cases, no. Mediated Settlement Agreements are binding in the same manner as judgments. There are some limited circumstance where MSA’s may be revoked. You should discuss those with a lawyer.
Is Mediation Often Successful?
Our firms experience is mediation is successful frequently, even in highly contested cases.
From the wide-ranging issues of divorce to the delicate nature of child support and child custody, McFarland Law, P.C. focuses on a variety of issues and cases dealing directly and indirectly with matters of family law.